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FHWA Home / OIPD / Accelerating Innovation / Every Day Counts / EDC News: April 20, 2023

EDC News

April 20, 2023

EDC-7: Strategic Workforce Development

SWD brings together partners to identify, train, place, and retain women, minorities, and other disadvantaged individuals into journey-level positions in the highway construction industry. Three agencies—in Florida, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI)—are providing female candidates employment opportunities using on-the-job (OJT) training, and the stories of individual participants are featured in a case study in the Strategic Workforce Development (SWD) toolkit.

OJT training programs have proven successful in providing female candidates these opportunities. OJT programs increases parity in the industry’s skilled workforce, while OJT Supportive Services programs ensure that agencies have the resources needed to assist with trainee recruitment, childcare, transportation, personal equipment purchasing, résumé-building, employment tracking and trending, and more. These programs work together to develop a skilled highway construction workforce, filling critical vacancies and laying the foundation for a strong, diverse highway construction industry.

Woman, wearing hard hat and safety vest

Florida requires that contractors include OTJ training as part of their equal employment opportunity affirmative action program for contracts over $2 million that last more than 275 calendar days. One participant, Jennifer Shepherd, was placed into an OJT program and trained as an off-road truck driver and bulldozer operator. Since participating in the OJT Program, Shepherd has received new job titles and responsibilities, along with several pay raises. She rejects the stereotype of the construction industry as being closed or unfriendly to women and states that she has endless opportunities and feels supported in the field.

Sheila Hernandez, now a 10-year highway construction veteran, took advantage of OJT programs implemented by the Puerto Rico Highways and Transportation Authority to help her move from road construction to working with fiber optics. The company she works for paid for her training, construction gear, and safety equipment through the OJT program.

In the USVI, after an oil refinery closed, hundreds of employees were left looking for employment. Instead of leaving the island to look for work, one candidate, Rasheda Williams, pursued an opportunity as a flagger for the USVI Department of Public Works (DPW). While working in that role, she was placed into an OJT opportunity, which led to training on heavy equipment. She states that she would recommend the USVI DPW SWD programs to anyone, especially women and single parents who may have a hard time finding a job or moving forward in their careers.

To learn more about SWD and how it can help your agency identify, train, place, and retain highway construction employees, visit the team’s EDC webpage or contact Chrisy Currier or Joe Conway, FHWA Office of Innovation and Workforce Solutions.

U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration logo. National Work Zone Awareness Week, April 17-21, 2023. Five paper doll looking stick figures with connecting hands. The figure in the middle is not wearing a hard hat and the two figures on the left and right of the middle figure are wearing hard hats. The text reads You play a role in work zone safety. Work with us.

National Work Zone Awareness Week Highlights Innovative Strategies and Technologies to Improve Safety

Safety is the top priority of the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), with a goal of significantly reducing deaths and serious injuries on our Nation’s roadways. In 2021, there were 956 work zone traffic fatalities and 108 highway worker fatalities. From 2020 to 2021, work zone fatalities increased by nearly 11 percent, and in 2021 speeding was a factor in 32% of fatal work zone crashes. Annually, National Work Zone Awareness Week, taking place this year from April 17-22, spotlights these critical safety issues in our nation’s work zones. Additionally, work zone and worker safety is part of USDOT’s National Roadway Safety Strategy released in January 2022, which adopts the Safe System Approach, outlines key actions to significantly reduce serious injuries and deaths, and highlights Safe Speeds as a core principle.

Table showing the following data: In 2020, there were 863 fatalities, 685 of which were drivers and passengers, 171 of which were bicyclists and persons on foot, and 7 others, which include occupants of a nonmotor vehicle transport device and persons on personal conveyances.
This table shows the number of fatalities by person type in 2020 and 2021 per the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Fatality Analysis Reporting System

Innovative strategies and technologies can improve work zone safety. Safety speed cameras (SSC, also referred to as automated speed enforcement) are now being deployed by many states to help reduce speeds and increase work zone safety. 10 states have authorizing legislation for SSC in work zones. Illinois and Maryland have operated successful programs for over 12 years, while other States like Connecticut and Pennsylvania operate pilot programs; New York State recently initiated a pilot program; and Washington State is currently developing a program. 

The use of SSC supports the Safe System Approach and Proven Safety Countermeasures initiative, while allowing  agencies to supplement more traditional methods of enforcement, engineering measures, and education to alter the social norms of speeding.

Discover Home-Grown Innovations from Around the Country

"National STIC Network Showcase" with 10 categories of links which the innovations are broken up into. Another screen extends from the left of the central screen with a button labeled, "View on-demand presentations." A man stands to the left of the screen and another man sits at the right corner of the screen.

Are you interested in homegrown innovations being used by your peers in other parts of the country? Check out the National STIC Network Showcase, a component of the EDC-7 Virtual Summit. Registering for the event allows you to access all the content through February 2024.

The showcase prominently features several innovations focused on addressing challenges to the natural environment. Learn about the New Hampshire DOT's Wildlife Passage Culvert, which partnered with The Nature Conservancy to create a replacement culvert that helped restore aquatic connectivity in the Hudson River Valley. The culvert features a low-flow channel for aquatic passage and a wildlife shelf for mammal passage. In addition to reconnecting the local ecosystem, animals passing through the culvert instead of at the roadway level will increase safety for motorists.

Celebrate the ingenuity of your peers and read about these innovations—developed and deployed in-house at transportation agencies nationwide. Additionally, we invite you to watch the one-hour presentations on-demand that feature many of these and other innovations.

Stay Up to Date on the EDC Innovations That Interest You Most

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EDC teams are always on the move! If you blink, you could miss out on important webinars, case studies, tools, videos, and more. To never miss information for the EDC innovations that interest you most, visit the subscription page and select the topics you’d like to receive updates on directly from the teams that coordinate them.

Recent bulletins:

Sustainable Pavements 4/17/23
Build a Better Mousetrap 4/17/23
Crowdsourcing 4/13/2023
Sustainable Pavements 4/13/2023
Local Aid Support 4/12/2023
Innovation Exchange 4/11/2023
TOPS 4/10/2023
CHANGE 4/06/2023

About EDC

Every Day Counts, a state-based initiative of the Federal Highway Administration's Center for Accelerating Innovation, works with state, local and private sector partners to encourage the adoption of proven technologies and innovations to shorten and enhance project delivery.

EDC News is published weekly by the FHWA Center for Accelerating Innovation.

Notice: The U.S. Government does not endorse products or manufacturers. Trademarks or manufacturers‘ names appear in this presentation only because they are considered essential to the objective of the presentation. They are included for informational purposes only and are not intended to reflect a preference, approval, or endorsement of any one product or entity.

Recommended Citation:
U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration
EDC News; April 20, 2023
Washington, DC

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Jeffrey A. Zaharewicz
(202) 366-1325

Page last modified on April 26, 2023
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