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Federal Highway Administration / Publications / Focus / August 2004

Accelerating Infrastructure Innovations

Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-04-028
Date: August 2004

Partnering for a Better Transportation Workforce

A coordinated national effort to improve training opportunities for transportation infrastructure workers is now starting to pay dividends, with the development of a proposed core curriculum for training transportation personnel that all highway agencies can use, as well as new training courses and partnership opportunities.

Formed in 2000, the Transportation Curriculum Coordination Council (TCCC) brought together five regional training and certification groups comprised of State highway agency training officers and materials and construction engineers, along with representatives from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and its National Highway Institute (NHI), several american Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) subcommittees, and industry associations. The partnership's goal was to develop curriculum that State highway agencies can use as a basis for their overall training and development programs, while offering enough flexibility to accommodate different departmental structures and operations.

The core curriculum was developed using funds from a 5-year State pooled-fund effort, which to date has raised $600,000. It covers five categories: materials, construction, maintenance, safety/work zones, and employee development. These categories encompass training for personnel from the entry level to project manager/administrator. The proposed core curriculum will be put forward to AASHTO over the next several months for concurrence and will then be made available to States for deployment.

In the area of training course development, the TCCC has made available, through its partnerships with NHI, AASHTO, and others, such courses as Hot-Mix Asphalt (HMA) Construction. This course targets contractor project superintendents and foremen, State highway agency project engineers, and lead inspectors. Using the materials developed by the TCCC and NHI, the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) conducted the HMA Construction course in each of its six districts during its slow-down period last winter. The training included not only State highway personnel, but also contractors' staff. "With the advent of the TCCC and the joint agreement with NHI, we now have an opportunity to get the training we need with high quality material that NHI will supply and in a time frame that meets our needs," says Garth Newman of ITD. "This course was received with more enthusiasm than most courses, because of the ability to bring the contractors' people and our construction Staff together for training they both needed." Jim Sorenson of FHWA's Office of Asset Management notes that, "States have the option to tailor the course to meet local situations and can use qualified local instructors."

Idaho has also benefited from the jointly developed TCCC/NHI course on Drilled Shaft Inspection. "We wanted to supply some just-in-time training to a district construction office with a contract involving drilled shafts," says Newman. "Since drilled shafts are uncommon on ITD projects, we didn't see the benefit of putting on the 40-hour Drilled Shaft Inspection course for 10 inspectors. However, there was specific material in the 40-hour course that the inspectors would need on this project." ITD realized that hiring a consultant to develop and deliver the training it needed would be costly and time consuming. Instead, ITD found a consultant that could provide an 8-hour course using the specific material from the Drilled Shaft Inspection course that was needed by its staff. "The consultant delivered the course on time, and there was very little cost for materials development. This was a large cost savings to ITD, and the inspectors got what they needed and when they needed it," says Newman. TCCC does not charge a fee for materials for the courses it has developed, so the only costs that would be incurred by States are for any modifications to meet individual State specifications, and instructor fees.

A coordinated national effort to improve training opportunities for transportation infrastructure workers is paying off with courses and materials that meet local and State needs.

The Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) is realizing advantages as well from using the training courses developed through the TCCC. "Course development for our Technical Training and Certification Program is both time consuming and costly. Iowa's basic courses have been developed and only require minor changes annually, but we don't have the specialty classes we need to help educate technicians," says Chris Anderson of Iowa DOT. "The TCCC is assisting with the need for technical courses. Iowa contributed to the TCCC pooled fund for that reason. If we only use one course that the TCCC has worked to provide, our contribution has paid for itself." Iowa will be using the TCCC's upcoming new Instructor Development for Technicians course, as well as portions of the Drilled Shafts and Driven Piling courses, while information from matrices developed by the TCCC listing technician competencies and training requirements will be used in the Iowa DOT Highway Division Training Academy. "The resources to develop new materials are limited, so why not use what someone else has developed and is willing to share?," says Anderson. "This process creates uniformity in the concepts, technical content, and practices being taught nationwide."

The TCCC is also developing new training courses, which are expected to be ready in 2005. One such course is Instructor Development for Technicians, which will help technicians become better technical training instructors. The course will cover such topics as presentation Skills, communication Skills, administering proficiency exams, and demonstrating the proper methods for laboratory test procedures. The Bridge Construction Inspection course will cover bridge construction details and good practices that will make the inspector more informed about the "why" and "what" necessary to obtain the quality of construction desired. In the Managing Construction Workmanship course, participants will look at how to improve workmanship decisionmaking for quality highway construction projects. The Quality Assurance Technologist course will be a certification course that any State or region can use, while the Inspection of Mechanically Stabilized Earth Walls and Reinforced Soil Slopes course will address such topics as proper construction Sequence; backfill gradations, compaction, and electrochemical properties; and reinforcement types, testing, and handling.

To further State coordination in Sustaining a skilled transportation workforce, the TCCC will be joining forces with the national Transportation Training Directors and State technical Training Coordinators to hold a "Partners in Transportation Learning Conference" from October 31-November 3, 2004, in Kansas City, Missouri. The conference is designed as a forum to share technical training information among States, avoid duplication of effort, and develop new State resources for training. "To meet the construction workforce needs we face today, we must pool our efforts and provide high quality training materials and instructors that fit the local needs and applications," says Sorenson.

For more information on the TCCC's core curriculum, training courses, and other opportunities, contact Christopher Newman in FHWA's Office of Asset Management, 202-366-2023 (email: christopher.newman@fhwa.dot.gov). For further details on the upcoming Partners in Transportation Learning Conference, contact Chris Anderson at Iowa DOT, 515-239-1819 (email: christie.anderson@dot.iowa.gov). Information on TCCC is also available online at www.nhi.fhwa.dot.gov/TCCC.

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Updated: 06/27/2017
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