Career Education, Apprenticeship programs, Nontraditional Occupations
Jobs in the highway construction trades have historically been primarily held by white men and largely remain so today; of those completing apprenticeships in the highway trades in Oregon between 2011 and early 2014, 83.4 percent were white men. Building a more diverse skilled workforce and making careers in these trades more accessible and appealing to women and people of color has proven challenging.
The state’s Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI), in collaboration with the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT), in 2010 began a statewide effort—the Highway Construction Workforce Development Program—to find, train, and employ a diverse workforce for highway construction jobs throughout the state. The program provides mentoring and four services designed to help workers overcome commonly identified barriers to participation in the heavy highway trades: financial support for childcare; fuel assistance; support for tools, clothes and other required equipment; and overnight travel expenses for jobs.
This paper provides the findings of an assessment of these efforts using data on trends in the Oregon heavy highway workforce from the Oregon Apprenticeship System, a phone survey of current and past highway apprentices conducted in early 2014, and a review of the experiences of others states in this area.
Burd-Sharps, Sarah, Kristen Lewis, and Maura Kelly. 2014. “Building a More Diverse Skilled Workforce in the Highway Trades: Are Oregon’s Current Efforts Working?” Final report submitted to the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries and Oregon Department of Transportation.