Public-private partnership to provide students with vital infrastructure skills in a critical time of worker shortages
DETROIT (Dec. 3, 2021) – HNTB has joined forces with Wayne County Community College District, Michigan Department of Transportation, Wayne County Department of Public Services, and the American Council of Engineering Companies to create a training program that targets people seeking careers in construction technology, inspection and testing.
The new Horizontal Infrastructure Training Center Collaborative, a public-private partnership, will provide students with classroom instruction, insights and skills that will enable them to pursue a broad range of careers in construction technology, inspection and testing. These fields are among the skilled trades reporting shortages in the availability of qualified workers.
“Infrastructure is a vital industry where we face a labor shortage and look to hire skilled individuals to inspect and test our roads,” said Nate Ford, HNTB deputy program manager. “A critical component is making sure that this work is done properly, safely and to code. In partnering with Wayne County Community College District, this program allows us to attract and train students looking for meaningful employment and to build their careers in the infrastructure field.”
Ford described HNTB’s role as one of a facilitator, bringing the other principals – the Michigan Department of Transportation, the Wayne County Department of Public Services, and the American Council of Engineering Companies – together on the venture, which began in October. “We just let everybody step up and do what they do best.”
“There is a huge need to fill that industry void, and what better way to address that need than to partner with Wayne County Community College,” said Mark J. Grazioli, engineer manager for the Michigan Department of Transportation. “The college has the bandwidth and platform to attract those students who are seeking opportunities for advancing their careers. We want to expose them to the available career opportunities that allow them to do critical and impactful infrastructure work.”
“WCCCD’s mission has always been to help people create pathways to career advancement through higher education,” said Curtis L. Ivery, chancellor of WCCCD. “We are proud to come together with an amazing list of partners to provide pathways toward high-paying, in-demand careers that are essential to our region’s future — critical infrastructure. We are excited to see our inaugural cohort thrive and to grow this program to support the dreams and goals of our students, and southeast Michigan.”
The collaborative’s first civil testing and inspection training takes place this week at the Northwest Campus of WCCCD in Detroit. The 40-hour instructional model, developed by the collaborative, will train students in a comprehensive set of foundational skills they will need before entering a specific infrastructure-related academic program.
In addition to capital investments from WCCCD, the collaborative is supported by partner contributions and foundation funding through the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and Predominantly Black Institutions grants from the U.S. Department of Education.