The Institute recently signed an agreement with the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) to assist in recruiting minorities, women, and disadvantaged individuals to participate in the department’s On-the-Job (OJT) Training program. The goal of the program is to help move OJT trainees into journey-level positions to ensure that a competent workforce is available to meet highway construction hiring needs, and to address the historical under-representation of these groups in highway construction-skilled crafts. The team is led by Bellandra Foster, who has a Masters and a Ph.D. in civil engineering; and is nationally recognized for her work. Dr. Foster's team includes Assistant Director, Anita Hicks and Program Assistant, Erika King.
As a recipient of federal funding from the Federal Highway Administration, NCDOT is required to administer the OJT program and set annual goals for the number of training candidates to be enrolled in the program. OJT trainees do not work for NCDOT; instead they work for large contractors who have contracts to complete highway construction project across the state of North Carolina. The contractors then report their actual number of OJT trainees to NCDOT monthly to track the success of the program.
OJT trainees can be enrolled in a wide variety of job classifications including cement mason, carpenter, equipment operator, truck driver, ironworkers, laborers, and others. Most OJT trainees can move from the apprentice level to journey level in 1-2 construction seasons. In recent years, NCDOT has enrolled over 100 OJT trainees in the program with contractors working on highway construction projects statewide.
The Institute’s role in the agreement will be assisting large contractors to recruit qualified trainees to participate in the program, and to help NCDOT administer the program through compliance and monitoring activities.
Institute president Farad Ali said: “The Institute is proud to have a well-balanced and experienced OJT team to partner with NCDOT. Our OJT programming will allow more minorities, women, and disadvantaged persons to start careers in the highway construction industry and move into skilled trade positions with a great opportunity for competitive salaries and longevity. We are excited to be a part of this effort that can help transform families and communities.”