Bill Loomis| Crain’s Talent Report
It’s common knowledge that Michigan’s highways, roads and general transportation infrastructure are in miserable condition.
Before work can be done, however, a challenge needs to be handled – one that’s bigger than politics: finding, hiring and training thousands of people needed to do the work.
There are 58,000 road construction-related jobs in Southeast Michigan, according to data compiled by the Workforce Intelligence Network.
When the funding is settled, then the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) can begin the enormous operation of repairing the state’s State’s roads. But for MDOT manager Robert Davis, senior Senior adviser Advisor for the Metro RegionDetroit Metro Area, the challenges have already have begun on the talent side.
According to Davis, recruiting will be critical because Southeast southeast Michigan’s skilled worker capacity is already is seriously low.
People’s expectations are also are an issue.
Most job applicants do not know that that road work is difficult, complex work that requires training followed by hands on hands-on experience earned through an apprenticeship. Road work apprenticeships can be as long high as six years long to master skills for a particular occupation, such as pipe fitting, cement masonry, or equipment operator.
To address these important issues, MDOT has created a partnership of private business, unions, and government. The partnership has identified a two track two-track plan for job seekers, some of whom have not worked in years, if ever.
“These people need help in understanding what we call ‘soft’ skills: showing up for work on time, and interacting with fellow employees, as well as training in reading and math,” he said.
This is to prepare them for the second track, something Davis calls “the other 4 four-year degree” — the apprenticeship.
To help job applicants understand what will be required, Davis and others have set up a website that lists potential jobs and the training and time it will take to learn the job: MIroad2work.org.
Davis said, “These people will be working for a private sector private-sector business that must make a profit. These new hires will be expected to know about things like safety and general work rules,; so, the website was set up to prevent massive disappointment in people who have been chronically unemployed. We want both new hires and their employers-contractors to make money and be happy.”
But those hiring practices are even more relevant as the workforce ages.
According to WIN data, 44 percent of road construction workers are over the age of 45, meaning that a lot of retirement is on the horizon.