Virtual training helps keep ADOT Construction Academy rolling

Success during latest two-week sessions could help expand program

PHOENIX – To continue helping members of disadvantaged groups during the current public health situation, the Arizona Department of Transportation’s Construction Academy is allowing participation through video conferencing and online instruction. 

Most of those taking part in a recently completed two-week Construction Academy, which prepares people for careers in highway construction, took advantage of these virtual options. A free two-week session scheduled to start Monday, June 1, in Tucson, with spaces still available as of Wednesday, will have online options as well. 

Steve Navis, a manager with ADOT’s On-The-Job-Training Supportive Services Program, said the innovative approach could help expand the Construction Academy’s reach down the road. Those in remote locations could conceivably have to travel to Phoenix or Tucson for fewer days of in-person instruction, and the format could allow more people to participate.

“This can easily be duplicated to include more students,” Navis said.

Leveraging virtual training for the Construction Academy is important because the industry hasn’t slowed down over the past few months.

Some aspects of the program, such a truck inspection for commercial driver license preparation, still require in-person instruction. During the recent Construction Academy, this was done in groups of two or three to encourage social distancing.

Construction Academy training is available to women, minorities, veterans and members of other economically disadvantaged groups, including those who are unemployed. The goal: providing the skills needed to make transportation construction a career and not just another job.

Since its inception in 2014, three-quarters of Construction Academy participants have gone on to work in the construction field as flaggers, commercial truck drivers, heavy equipment operators, highway surveyors, electricians, carpenters, painters, pipe fitters, concrete finishers and block masons. Depending on the position, they start out earning $14 to $24 an hour, and sometimes more.

Participants receive training in construction math, flagger certification, OSHA 10 safety certification, reading construction plans, obtaining a Commercial Driver License permit and resume building. If participants have perfect attendance, they receive a set of tools valued at $200. ADOT offers the training through a Federal Highway Administration workforce grant.

For more information or to apply for future sessions, please visit azdot.gov/Academy, call 602.712.8125 or pick up materials at the ADOT Business Engagement and Compliance Office, 1801 W. Jefferson St., Suite 101, in Phoenix.