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Inclusion: Create Opportunity

How do we create opportunity?

WSDOT is growing our capacity through the Capacity Building Mentorship Program, apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship participation and by promoting opportunities. We do this by (click through the tabs to discover):

Increasing minority and women apprentices

How do we measure increasing minority and women apprentices?

WSDOT aims to increase the number of minority and women apprentices in the highway construction trades. In 2020, 43% of apprentices in the highway construction trades in Washington state were minorities and women. WSDOT is currently analyzing this data, working to establish benchmarks and goals.

43% Spotlight status icon

Source: WSDOT Construction Office.

Note: Total hours for 2018 are significantly higher than 2017 due to the inclusion of a multi-year project that closed in 2018.

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Why is increasing the number of minority and women apprentices in the highway construction trades a priority?

WSDOT is striving to create a diverse workforce both inside the agency and with the organizations we do business with. To create career opportunities in the heavy highway construction industry for under-represented individuals, WSDOT strives to ensure our apprentices are representative of the communities in which the project is occurring. According to state law, all projects estimated to cost over three million dollars are required to have a 15% apprenticeship requirement. WSDOT partners with stakeholder, pre-apprenticeship service providers and our Apprenticeship Advisory Council to meet ensure our contractors workforce are inclusive.

How are we doing?

In 2020, 43% of our apprentices are minorities, women or other socially and economically disadvantaged individuals. WSDOT is currently evaluating information to establish benchmarks for upcoming federal fiscal years.

What are we working on?

WSDOT’s Apprenticeship Program partners with the Pre-Apprenticeship Support Services Program within WSDOT to provide grants to non-profits and pre-apprenticeship educational organizations to ensure adequate representation of minorities, women or other socially and economically disadvantaged individuals in our highway construction workforce.

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Capacity Building Mentorship Program participation

How do we measure Capacity Building Mentorship Program participation?

We are working to implement a successful Capacity Building Mentorship Program with at least 30 mentors and protégés working together by January 2021.

Progress     Target    
FY2020 FY2020
Mentor-Protégé Program
68 mentors matched with 86 protégés Arrow to right 30 to 50 mentors matched with 30-50 protégés goal met status icon
goal met

Why did we pick this target?

WSDOT worked with the stakeholders from the DBE Advisory Group comprised of community, trade and other agency staff to develop the goals to determine program success. These measures will help the agency determine if the program has been successful for both construction and consulting companies.

WSDOT is staying in contact with program participants to ensure the program remains successful. Other benchmarks have been established and will be evaluated after the program has been implemented for one year.

More about the Capacity Building Mentorship program

Why is the Capacity Building Mentorship program important?

The Capacity Building Mentorship Program is intended to enhance the capabilities and participation of Minority, Small, Veteran, and Women Business Enterprises (MSVWBE), and underserved businesses that can perform work on transportation-related projects.

WSDOT’s Capacity Building Mentorship program pairs prime contractors or consultants (mentors) with owners of firms who are certified by the Office of Minority and Women’s Business Enterprises (OMWBE) or registered as a small or veteran’s business (protégés). The program is part of Governor Jay Inslee’s diverse business participation goal in Results Washington. This highlights WSDOT's commitment to supporting and building capacity for underrepresented firms.

WSDOT recognizes that MSVWBEs often face challenges in securing public and private contracts compared to their larger counterparts. WSDOT further recognizes the best way to enhance opportunity and equity for MSVWBEs, is to synchronize the efforts of all involved parties to develop, implement, and deliver a voluntary (or race-neutral) program, such as the mentorship program. The growth potential for firms taking advantage of this program is large and many early adopters have received contracts.

How are we doing?

How are we doing? How are we doing? This program has been increasing its own capacity. WSDOT has paired 68 mentors with 86 protégés since the Capacity Building Mentorship program launched in summer 2017. WSDOT re-launched the program with Sound Transit. Minority Business Development Agency – Tacoma Business Center is administering the program. Additionally, Business Impact NW will administer loans to protégés participating in the program, with a total of $750,000 in loans available from local credit unions. These partnerships seek to enhance the capabilities and increase the participation of minority, small, veteran and women-owned business enterprises in the transportation sector.

What are we working on?

Despite the current global pandemic, the program is currently on track and just completed the application process for Cohort four, which launched in November 2020. WSDOT, Sound Transit and MBDA-Tacoma completed the application and assessment rounds for Cohort four, along with virtual ‘Meet & Greets’ in August 2020. These Meet and Greets allowed new program participants to meet and discuss potential partnerships.

In January of 2021 WSDOT, Sound Transit, and MBDA-Tacoma will gather virtually with current active cohorts three and four, to welcome them to the Program, which is a two-year commitment.

Meet & Greet in Tukwila on June 19, 2019
Meet & Greet | Tukwila, WA

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Pre-Apprenticeship Support Services (PASS)

How do we measure support for highway construction trade students?

2019-21 biennium on track status icon
On track
$2 million

Source: WSDOT Office of Equal Opportunity.

In the current 2019-21 biennium, WSDOT has provided 1.7 million dollars in Pre-Apprenticeship Support Services grants to eight training and outreach providers across the state. In state fiscal years 2017-19 (July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2019), WSDOT provided $1.5 million in Pre-Apprenticeship Support Services grants, and 406 students supported by these grants, graduated. Since the PASS program began in 2016, it has supported more than 794 students in pre-apprenticeship training classes. WSDOT has provided support services such as work clothing, car repair, tools, testing fees, driver license fees, gas cards, bus fare, initiation fees, housing and tutoring assistance to more than 239 individuals enrolled in pre-apprenticeship programs.

Pre-Apprenticeship Support Services (PASS) program, administered by the Office of Equal Opportunity, focuses on providing pre-apprenticeship training and placement for under-represented individuals in the construction workforce. PASS program graduates received training opportunities in the various highway construction trades. Many of the individual graduates reflect the diverse communities of Washington including women, people of color and veterans.

More about the PASS program

Why is the PASS program a priority?

The construction industry projects a shortfall in skilled heavy construction workers. Research shows that a shortage of skilled labor is a root cause of cost overruns in construction projects. The PASS Grant is a practical way to address this labor shortfall. The PASS Program supports Pre-Apprenticeship providers across Washington state to recruit, train, and ready a diverse workforce of women, people of color, and others facing barriers to high paying jobs such as those formerly incarcerated, aging out of foster care, or leaving the Juvenile Rehabilitation system, for living wage careers in the construction trades. This is an important priority as our region faces both a boom in growth and construction jobs and faces an unprecedented number of individuals retiring out of the construction workforce.

How are we doing?

The PASS Program Providers continue their work to reach hundreds of individuals and help them find their footing in a construction trade, either through training, support services, barrier removal, recruitment or retention services, or a combination of all these. During the 2017-19 biennium, the program graduated more than 91% percent of the pre-apprentices. With additional retention and support services, in the 2019-21 biennium, we would like to see this figure increase by 5%.

What are we working on?

WSDOT’s PASS Program has partnered with R3 Services and the Pacific Northwest Ironworkers for our newest initiative, WSDOT Youth Direct, to assist up to twenty individuals from the Juvenile Rehabilitation community or those who have left Foster Care, aged 18-26, to gain entry into WSDOT’s highway construction workforce. This will be accomplished by conducting individual assessments, providing pre-employment assistance, providing support services, barrier removal and providing these individuals Direct Entry Pre-Apprenticeship Training with placement into Apprenticeship after successful completion.

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Increasing awareness

Spotlight status icon Spotlight on increasing awareness

WSDOT is increasing awareness by reaching out to Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBEs), small, minority, women, and veteran-owned businesses. WSDOT works collaboratively with entities like the City of Seattle, King County, Port of Seattle, Sound Transit, and others to promote contracting with economically and socially disadvantaged and under-utilized firms.

For example, On January 8, 2020 Emerald Consulting Services LLC, conducted a training titled: “Elements of Contract Administration”.

Topics included:

Ninety-nine DBE related individuals registered for this training.

WSDOT’s Office of Equal Opportunity hosted its first DBE Boot Camp on February 13, 2020, at South Seattle College, and 134 firms attended. The event consisted of two presentations tailored toward either construction or consulting firms. Information shared was specific to increasing a DBE’s ability to participate on WSDOT contracts. Topics included locating WSDOT construction and engineering opportunities, accessing DBE Supportive Services, and learning about the abundance of additional resources available to help DBE firms grow.

DBE boot camp on February 13th, 2020 at South Seattle College.
WSDOT’s Office of Equal Opportunity hosted its first DBE Boot Camp on February 13, 2020, at South Seattle College

Entities presenting included:

Along with a robust question and answer session led by DBE experts, firms in attendance had the opportunity to network with other firms.

On November 18, 2020, WSDOT hosted a virtual Conference titled: Strengthening Contracting Partnerships and Opportunities. This training was open to prime contractors, consultants, sub-contractors, small businesses, and DBEs.

More about increasing awareness

Why is increasing awareness a priority?

The goal of WSDOT’s outreach initiative is to raise community awareness of opportunities and to promote diversity and inclusion in the construction industry. By meaningfully engaging with communities across the state, WSDOT builds both goodwill and trust with groups that have historically been socially and economically disadvantaged and under-utilized in procurement and construction contracts.

How are we doing?

WSDOT staff attend and host a wide variety of events. This has remained the same, despite the global pandemic. Rather than in-person events or meetings, it has now shifted to virtual platforms. To increase awareness, staff has presented information on the many opportunities available at WSDOT and how to participate in those opportunities.

What are we working on?

OEO plans to continue its efforts with outreach towards targeted communities who are traditionally socially and economically disadvantaged, as well as under-utilized. In addition, OEO is looking into ways to involve communities that have historically not been involved in our outreach activities. OEO will continue to use its outreach efforts to build trust and highlight opportunities at WSDOT.

For example, the Capacity Building Mentorship Program, created as part of Governor Inslee’s diverse business participation goal in Results Washington, is currently on track for its fourth Cohort (launched in November 2020) despite the global pandemic. WSDOT has paired 68 mentors with 86 protégés since the program launch in summer of 2017.

WSDOT and Sound Transit hosted a meet and greet in February 2020 for all active members including the newest pairings of Cohort three image.
WSDOT and Sound Transit hosted a meet and greet in February 2020 for all active members including the newest pairings of Cohort three.
In August 2020, WSDOT (along with partnering agencies) completed the application and assessment rounds for the latest active Cohort. Assessments were conducted on a one-on-one basis which were followed up by virtual ‘Meet and Greets’ with WSDOT, Partnering Agency Sound Transit, Mentor, Protégé, and Program Administrator, MBDA – Tacoma from October-November 2020. All parties felt this was a great way to tailor this time for any questions they had for their pairing before signing a Memorandum of Understanding between the two parties.

In January of 2021, WSDOT, Sound Transit, MBDA – Tacoma, and active Mentors and Protégés will virtually convene to welcome new members to the voluntary two year program, as well as have an opportunity to ask questions and hear from Executive Leadership with WSDOT and partnering agencies.

Additionally, OEO will also host a virtual DBE Boot Camp along with hosting and attending virtual meetings, webinars, and trainings in 2021.

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