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OTIA III State Bridge Delivery
Web Brief (Mar 06)
workforce alliance meeting
Government agencies and organizations work together.
ODOT launches statewide workforce alliances
 
It’s a truism that if there is work to be done, workers are needed to do it. When the work is repairing and rebuilding Oregon’s highway bridges, it requires a large, skilled workforce prepared to meet construction demands now and in the coming years.
 
Finding, training and employing this workforce was ODOT’s goal in creating the landmark Workforce Development Plan. The plan, initiated statewide in July 2005, is designed to expand diversity in employment, increase apprenticeship participation, and increase training resources and opportunities for highway construction jobs throughout the state.
 
Since last September, ODOT has been implementing the Workforce Development Plan through workforce alliances around the state. To date, alliances are up and running in two regions: the Portland metro area and eastern Oregon.
 
“Our workforce alliances are collaborations between regional stakeholders; state and federal agencies; and educational and employment stakeholders,” said Michael Cobb, Office of Civil Rights manager for ODOT. “The goal of these alliances is to locate employable people and train them for a career in construction that will serve them now and well into the future.”
 
Key agencies represented
Four key agencies are represented in each alliance: ODOT, the Bureau of Labor and Industry, the Oregon Employment Department, and the Department of Community Colleges and Workforce Development. These agencies have existing employment infrastructures in place that are used to efficiently implement the alliances. ODOT is committed to leveraging existing resources in the development of a diverse and skilled workforce.
 
In addition to the four lead agencies, local stakeholders play an important role in each region. For example, the Portland Metro Area Regional Workforce Alliance includes the City of Portland and TriMet. The Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation are partners in the Eastern Oregon Regional Workforce Alliance. Regional stakeholders ensure that communities maintain ownership of the processes created, and control how resources are used. This regional ownership allows each community to adapt plans for workforce development to fit specific community needs.
 
Maintaining regional identity
“It’s important to maintain a regional identity and take advantage of local knowledge in order to be successful,” Cobb said. “In each of our regions, there are experts who know the local people and their needs.”
 
The Portland Metro Area Regional Workforce Alliance kicked off in September 2005. As ODOT’s largest region, the Portland metro area was the first to implement the program and has provided a working example for the rest of the state.
 
The Eastern Oregon Regional Workforce Alliance was introduced in Pendleton on Feb. 21. Following a brief morning ceremony, the committee met in session to prepare for implementation of the program, scheduled to begin in four to six weeks.
 
The next alliance launch is planned for Region 3 later this spring. Preliminary talks are under way to determine alliance partners.
 
“The whole concept behind stimulating the economy in Oregon is about how we can get people, processes and programs together to build long-term careers,” Cobb said. “The implementation of our workforce alliances ensures that the need for sustainable, solid-wage jobs is being met and shaped by the people in local communities.”
 
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