The NJ State Transportation Innovation Council (NJ STIC) 2nd Quarter Meeting, held on June 16, 2021, featured presentations about on-going and proposed strategic workforce development initiatives, among other topics. The STIC Meeting Agenda had been distributed to the invitees prior to the meeting. Participants were invited to use the chat feature to offer comments or ask questions of the speakers during the online meeting.
Amanda Gendek, Manager of the NJDOT Bureau of Research greeted the meeting participants, followed by Asst. Commissioner Michael Russo who provided the Welcome and Opening Remarks. Asst. Commissioner Russo noted that the NJDOT workforce will return to work at 50 percent capacity on June 21, 2021. Meetings will continue using virtual formats to accommodate other organizations that may not be returning to in-person work yet. NJDOT has found that virtual meetings have provided better access and increased participation. Mr. Russo took a moment to note the imminent retirement of Michele Shapiro, Director, NJDOT Human Resources, who had been integral to workforce training innovations at NJDOT that were being highlighted for their lessons learned during the current STIC meeting.
FHWA EDC Innovation. Helene Roberts, Innovation Coordinator and Performance Manager for the FHWA NJ Office, noted that six month progress reports for the EDC initiatives and STIC incentive grant update reports are due by July 8, 2021.
Ms. Roberts reported that NJDOT has offered to pilot FHWA’s Let’s Go! Workshop which is designed to help in the formation of cohesive teams and plans to advance the EDC innovative initiatives. The workshop will be held in September 2021, with a focus on the Strategic Workforce Development team, and an E-Construction team that will address Digital As-Builts and E-Ticketing.
Core Innovation Area (CIA) Updates. The meeting continued with presentations from Core Innovative Area (CIA) leaders who provided updates of the status of EDC initiatives on the topics of Safety, Mobility and Operations, Infrastructure Preservation, and Organizational Support and Improvement.
Featured Presentations. Michele Shapiro, Director, NJDOT Human Resources, presented on the Operations Apprenticeship Program as it relates to Strategic Workforce Development. The program began in 2014 as a way to provide consistent training and job skills among crew members, and establish a path to advancement for workers. Ms. Shapiro offered a number of lessons learned from this ongoing initiative.
Chrystal Section, NJDOT Division of Civil Rights ADA/504 Coordinator, presented on reinvigorating a Succession Planning program at NJDOT. This program operated between 2001 and 2010 and several individuals currently in leadership positions went through the program. The proposed two-tiered program would provide workforce development on the executive level and on the professional level to offer increased opportunities for advancement within the agency.
Vicky Tilghman-Ainsley, Acting Executive Director, NJDOT Division of Civil Rights/Affirmative Action, spoke about Special Recruitment Programs, including a pilot program to introduce high school students to the construction and maintenance fields. She noted that the Youth Corps program is continuing with gateway projects in the summer. The agency will also be working with contractors and contractor organizations to increase the number of women and minorities in the workforce. Laine Rankin commented that, a number of years ago, students were brought in to NJDOT to learn about planning at the agency and suggested that this effort could be replicated in other divisions.
Reminders and Updates.
Amanda Gendek provided the following information and reminders:
- Information on NJ STIC is available on the NJDOT Technology Transfer website at https://www.njdottechtransfer.net/nj-stic/
- She is preparing an application for a 2021 STIC Excellence Award. She is highlighting several innovative endeavors undertaken by NJ STIC in the past year, including the NJ STIC Virtual Caucus that utilized breakout sessions to enable in-depth discussions on each of the EDC-6 innovative initiatives.
- The NJDOT Tech Transfer Newsletter is available on the Tech Transfer website and is emailed to those subscribed to the listserv.
- A STIC primer document is available that provides links to information for new STIC members or as a review for current members. This document can be found in recent emails.
- The Build a Better Mousetrap Competition is accepting applications from public agency employees who have implemented a better way to do their jobs, whether it’s a new gadget that improves the quality and safety of a project, or an innovative process that reduces costs and improves efficiency.
Helene Roberts noted that the NJ STIC Executive Team will be meeting to review and revise the STIC charter in light of the addition of the Organizational Support and Improvement CIA.
Asst. Commissioner Russo closed the meeting out with a note about the renewed interest in succession planning and the introduction of the fourth CIA team that will be sharing updates on that effort and others related to Strategic Workforce Development.
A recording of the NJ STIC 2nd Quarterly Meeting of 2021 can be found on this page.
Meeting Presentations can be found in its entirety here and in the sections below.
NJ STIC 2021 2nd Quarter Meeting Recording