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FHWA Home / OIPD / Accelerating Innovation / Every Day Counts / EDC-6: Strategic Workforce Development

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Strategic Workforce Development

Innovative strategies to identify, train, and place workers in highway construction jobs that support the Nation's highway system.

The demand for highway construction, maintenance, and operations workers is growing while industry is experiencing a revolution of emerging technologies that will require new skills. To attract and retain workers in the Contractors' workforce, new resources are available to help compete with other industries and demonstrate the value of a career in transportation.

An Industry and Public Workforce Collaboration

According to a 2018 national survey by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), 80 percent of construction firms reported difficulty finding qualified workers. In addition, a 2015 report by the U.S. Departments of Transportation, Education, and Labor estimated that the transportation sector will need to hire approximately 4.6 million workers between 2012 and 2022.

Government agencies, trade organizations, private agencies, and communities nationwide need new, collaborative approaches to meeting this challenge. The Nation depends on the highway system, and the highway system depends on qualified workers.

FHWA partnered with the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), AGC, the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA), and the U.S. Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration to conduct a 2-year pilot that explored how industry representatives could work collaboratively with the public workforce system to improve their ability to recruit, train, and retain highway construction workers. The pilot was conducted in 12 locations—six States and six cities—from 2016 to 2018.

This effort resulted in a highway construction workforce development playbook called "Identify, Train, Place." The playbook is aimed at helping State and local agencies identify, train, and place workers in the Contractors' workforce to meet resource needs to deliver highway construction jobs. The playbook condenses the lessons learned from the pilot into simple, repeatable "plays" that others can use. The plays reflect solutions to challenges that affected the pilot participants and are customizable to local needs.

In addition to the playbook, FHWA developed a comprehensive outreach campaign called Roads To Your Future. The campaign includes free messaging and marketing materials to help recruit the next generation of highway construction workers. Many of the materials can be customized with local information to market open jobs and training to potential applicants.

Increasing the Contractors' construction workforce can help communities thrive while solving one of today's most persistent national transportation problems. It also offers an opportunity to recruit minorities and women to jobs that can change their lives, and the lives of their families, for the better.


Effective Solutions. Advancing the lessons learned through the highway construction workforce pilot offers the transformational ideas and support needed to fill the gaps in the workforce.

Proven Training. Training programs, practices, and tools from across the country are available to help plan workforce development activities.

Flexibility. Free materials are available to support workforce marketing efforts. Posters, flyers, mailer cards, and social media graphics can be customized with local contact information.

State of the Practice

The Highway Construction Workforce Partnership, a collaboration of national partners, is providing knowledge, resources, and technical support to assist local efforts. Besides the playbook, other programs, practices, and tools from around the country that may help with planning workforce development efforts include the Alabama Road Construction Training Course, Arizona Industry Readiness Course, Denver WORKNOW Navigator Program, and the Future Road Builders Gaming App.

Page last modified on November 15, 2023
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