Agencies need to get future employees in the pipeline to combat the employee shortage. There are two new, unique programs targeting youth in the community to help them build career plans to become mechanics and police officers.
Getting in on Vehicle Maintenance
IndyGo, the Indianapolis Public Transportation Corp., has partnered with the Arsenal Technical High School to provide youth in the community hands-on experience in maintenance.
Tim Anderson, a truck and diesel technology instructor at the school, explains that it’s a three-year program that starts during a student’s sophomore year and that students get involved in summer internships and co-op programs for the hands-on experience.
“Between ‘08 and ’09, and ‘09 and ‘10 we had our first summer interns,” he says. “Between junior year and senior year they do the internships and then second semester of senior year they do a co-op program where they attend school in the morning for their academics and then they go to work.”
For the co-op, students work at least four hours each day after school, typically leaving school about 10:00.
Anderson says, “They look forward to the internships and it has been a really good experience for all of them.
“They enjoy getting out there and getting some hands-on experience and the money; that’s a big plus for them, too.”
According to IndyGo, its intern Antez Burgess was able to participate in the eight-week summer internship through the support of IndyGo staff, Navistar International’s Truck and Diesel Engine Program and the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials (COMTO). COMTO provided Burgess with a monthly intern stipend.
Over the past summer, students worked as truck and diesel apprentices at IndyGo, an IPS bus repair facility and at Indiana Truck. Where it’s worked well, Anderson employers were willing to keep an open mind and positive mind-set; they helped to make it work.
“We can’t make it work and they can’t make it work because it takes all of us working together to make it work,” he stresses.
At IndyGo, 18-year-old Burgess worked directly with the maintenance staff to learn about engine repair, transmissions, shocks, brakes and welding. According to IndyGo, staff was impressed with his work ethic and job performance and has invited him back for a co-op opportunity during his school’s second semester.
As for finding partners for the school, Anderson says it has been somewhat challenging. Many companies say they’re going to do it, but then when it’s time to place the interns, they back out on the program.
“We’ve heard every excuse you can think of,” he says. “We’ve had two or three different places say they had union issues, that the union would have a problem with them.
“And then there’s everything from not enough work to hire them to money issues, that they can’t afford to hire interns.”
With some of the students only 17 years old, Anderson says age has also been an issue; many places tell him the students need to be 18 years old.
“It has been a real challenge,” Anderson stresses.
When asked what companies with this opportunity should consider, he states, “Give these kids a chance. Short and sweet.
“These kids are anxious to go to work and I think they’ll be pleasantly surprised with their knowledge and work they do given the opportunity.”
Preparing Future Police
In Baltimore, at the Maryland Transit Administration, the MTA Police Force has launched a Police Cadet program, offering qualified men and women between the ages of 18 and 20 the opportunity to experience the challenges and rewards of a career in law enforcement.
The one-year program offers cadets classroom and on-the-job training, as well as mentoring by MTA police officers.
MTA Administrator/CEO Ralign T. Wells says the program was started to provide future officers for the department. “The program was started to provide a constant pipeline for ready recruits for our police department and to provide more eyes and ears on our transit system to ensure the feel of security for our customers.