Tuesday, March 30, 2021

High School to Highways program gives young adults a path to public service

 By Angie Millar

Spring break is here for many students, and those graduating from high school – or recently graduated – may be wondering what comes next. It’s a question many of us dealt with and we know it can be daunting.

Might we suggest our High School to Highways program?

It’s a program designed for graduating seniors and recent grads to give them an opportunity to join our maintenance team. We started it in 2020 to help us fill open maintenance jobs in several areas of the state while offering a foot in the door to those looking to start a career.

How the program works

Any graduating senior or recent high school grads between the ages of 18-22 can apply. Top applicants will be selected and interviewed and from that group a handful will be selected for various roles in a variety of locations around the state. They go through our maintenance academy and orientation, learning how to use equipment and perform repairs such as guardrail and pothole work.

Students in the program are assigned a mentor for the first two years, gaining hands-on experience working on our highways. The agency also covers the cost to obtain a commercial driver’s license, which our maintenance workers need to operate construction vehicles and heavy machinery.

These are not internships. Those picked for the program are full-fledged employees of our agency.

Applications for the program are now open through May 25 on our jobs web page.
Those chosen for our High School to Highways program are paired up with
 experienced members of our maintenance team to learn a variety of skills
to help keep our roads safe.

Why we are doing it

Like many organizations, we have an aging work force, leaving holes to fill across our agency, including the always-important maintenance department.

By partnering with Career Technology Education programs at local high schools, community colleges, tribal and community organizations throughout the state, we’re able to connect interested students with a possible career path while helping us develop a sustainable, skilled, diverse workforce. Maintaining a robust workforce helps us keep goods and people moving across our state, ultimately benefitting all residents.

“We want to establish this pipeline so that every year recent grads know this is a standing program,” Human Resources Manager Joelle Davis said. “There are students that need an opportunity like this.”

Looking to the future

Two years ago, four people participated in the High School to Highways Program strictly filling jobs in King and Snohomish counties. This year we are expanding it to include Skagit, Whatcom, Pierce and Thurston counties as well as the Olympic Peninsula and Wenatchee.

It’s a program we’re really excited to see grow, helping us fill critical maintenance positions while giving young people a path to a rewarding career.

4 comments:

Unknown said...

Is there a specific job title that I should be looking for?

WSDOT said...

Yes! This link takes you to it: https://www.governmentjobs.com/careers/washington/wsdot?keywords=high%20school%20to%20highways&pagetype=jobOpportunitiesJobs&jobId=3048144&jobName=high-school-to-highways-maintenance-worker-in-training&tab=1

Unknown said...

Awesome! Thank you!

Unknown said...

Thanks

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