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The National Academies

NCHRP 20-24(50) [Completed]

In-Service Training Needs for State DOTs
[ NCHRP 20-24 (Administration of Highway and Transportation Agencies) ]

  Project Data
Funds: $50,000
Research Agency: Tom Warne & Associates, LLC
Principal Investigator: Tom Warne
Effective Date: 4/1/2005
Completion Date: 3/31/2006

Background: A 2004 survey of state DOT CEOs identified Training and Workforce Issues as one of their highest priority areas of concern, particularly "in-service training for both professional and technical personnel." The concern grows out of four trends the DOTs are facing:
    1. Retirement of managers and technicians with many years of experience, and the need to replace them with people with far less experience. More training is needed to enable these people to handle their new responsibilities.
    2. Downsizing of state staff and contracting out more activities means a changing role for state personnel. Instead of supervising staff to do work directly, they need to be trained in skills such as contract negotiation, contract supervision, and quality assurance to accomplish the same mission through different means.
    3. The mix of skills required of a state DOT have expanded. Training may be required to enable staff to communicate with the public better in public meetings, address the growing complexity of environmental requirements, etc.
    4. Technologies which can increase state DOT productivity and effectiveness are changing and growing more complex. Training is required so needed skills can be mastered.

AASHTO requested this study to find out, state by state, what the members believe their specific needs are in this area. The study was designed as a three-step process: Conduct a survey, discuss the issue with Personnel and Training Directors at a national meeting, and discuss it with CEOs at the four AASHTO regional meetings. The results would help AASHTO to achieve the Board of Directors' Strategic Plan Goal 3. D. "Expand training opportunities and array of offerings." The results also would help the Council of University Transportation Centers to craft training programs that better meet State DOT needs, the LTAP program to target their services, and the individual states to assess their own particular needs and how to meet them.

The topic of "in-service" training poses many questions. What are the specific training and development needs making up the "in-service" component of professional development? How are they being delivered? Should they be offered in different formats than in the past? How can the process of acquiring needed professional skill sets be accelerated? Leaders in transportation agencies from across the country will benefit from a better understanding of what the needs are, where gaps exist between current and needed training, how best to deliver training and what future skill sets need to be developed to meet changing demands within the industry. This study was intended to capture this important information and offer insights that will address these questions and many more relating to "in-service" training needs at state DOT's.

Objective: The objective of this project was to define the parameters of the "in-service" issue in state DOT's including the following:
  • Identify "in-service" training needs of state DOT's for engineers and other professionals
  • Identify "in-service" training needs of state DOT's for technical staff and field personnel
  • Identify current practices in meeting "in-service" needs in state DOT's
  • Identify desired delivery methods and strategies for meeting the "in-service" training needs of state DOT's
  • Prepare a report that will serve as a resource to state DOTs, to participants in the National Summit on Transportation Education planned for Fall, 2005, to the LTAP Program, NHI and other training programs.

Tasks: The project called for the following tasks to be accomplished:
(1) Review past research. Work performed under this task will include a review of past research concerning "in-service" training issues with particular emphasis on that which is focused on state DOT's.
(2) Develop, conduct a survey of state in-service training needs, and compile results. A survey of the state DOTs including Chief Executive Officers and selected AASHTO Committee members will be conducted to assess the state of "in-service" training in these agencies. This survey will gather data in the following areas:
  • Current and desired skill sets for engineers, other professionals, technical staff and field personnel
  • Status of current "in-service" training efforts and identification of gaps in priority areas
  • Current "in-service" training delivery methods
  • Desired "in-service" training delivery methods
  • Future needs for "in-service" training
(3) Organize and Conduct a workshop for state DOT Human Resources Directors (HR) and Training Directors. At the April 2005 meeting of the AASHTO Subcommittee on Personnel and Human Resources conduct a half day workshop on "in-service" training needs for state DOTs. Participants will be state DOT HR and training directors. The format of the workshop will be a facilitated discussion designed to gather information on specific skill requirements and gaps, training needs and priorities. Prior to the workshop, workshop participants will be asked to identify current and projected demand for certain skill sets in professional and technical areas; and training gaps, needs and priorities. This information will be used as the basis for the workshop discussions. Topics for the workshop will track the survey developed in Task 2.
(4) Conduct Regional CEO Workforce Seminars. At the four regional summer meetings a one to two hour CEO Workforce Seminar will be conducted focusing on workforce skill requirements and training needs. The purpose of these seminars is to seek input from the state's chief executives on their perspectives on the "in-service" training needs of their agencies and how they can be met. Each seminar will be summarized and an aggregate report will be prepared reflecting key themes and issues emanating from these sessions. This report will be included in the document prepared under Task 5.
(5) Prepare a Summary Report. From the research and information gathered from Tasks 1 through 4 prepare a report that will be distributed to the AASHTO states, serve as input to development of an agenda for the National Summit on Transportation Education in the Fall of 2005, and provide background information for the Summit participants. This task includes attending/participating in the summit.

Status: Work has been substantially completed. The National Summit on Transportation Education anticipated to be held in the Fall of 2005 has been postponed; no date has been announced.

Product availability: The agency's final report is available here.

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