After her tenure as a Director at WRTP/BIG STEP, Tracey Griffith joined the Walbec Group as an Outreach Manager, where she currently oversees outreach and community partnerships, working closely with recruitment and the WRTP/BIG STEP’s Department of Transportation’s (DOT) TrANS Roadbuilding program. Her history with WRTP/BIG STEP, combined with her position at the Walbec Group, has made for a truly effective and satisfying partnership for both entities.
“WRTP’s TrANS program has been a fantastic tool for both recruiting and training candidates,” says Griffith. “Providing candidates with soft skills and real-world experience are the hallmarks of a successful and effective training program; TrANS roadbuilding certificate program through WRTP works closely with the Department of Transportation to increase participants’ chances of landing not just a job in the trades, but a career with family sustaining wages.”
While the Walbec Group is traditionally considered a company solely focused on heavy highway construction, it actually has vested interests in many different sectors of construction and the trades, as a whole. “The problem,” Griffith says, “is that when people think of ‘construction,’ they only think of commercial construction. But the Walbec Group’s duties are intertwined with many branches of trade work on the roadbuilding side. We work with carpenters and pile drivers, operating engineers, cement masons, and general laborers. We also have a need for Project Managers and Engineers; there are so many opportunites.”
Then there’s the misconception of what construction actually entails. “Both WRTP/BIG STEP and the Walbec Group are committed to broadening public understanding of what, exactly, the trades can offer potential candidates,” Griffith continued. “It’s in this overlap of missions where we find the heart and soul of our partnership.”
While the fate of the trades has been thrown around recently, The Walbec Group hasn’t suffered from a lack of candidates; it’s finding the right person for the right job (at the right time) that is the largest obstacle. “We’re never short on applicants. The challenges we face are finding applicants that both meet our requirements and can do the job,” Griffith commented. Beyond the desire to learn and the willingness to work hard, participants must also meet other requirements, such as:
- Possession of a driver’s license and transportation (Building highways and bridges requires employees to consistently and reliably get to locations that are oftentimes inaccessible by public transportation.)
- A clean driving record
- Commercial Driver’s Licensure is preferred
- Ability to pass a drug screen
- A history of impeccable attendance (Believe it or not, half of the battle of finding quality employees is finding those who will show up! If you show up early, you’re already ahead of 75% of candidates.)
- Ability to withstand the physical demands of the job
Applicants must also meet the requirements of their specific union, as the Walbec Group hires through unions.
Griffith knows that a large portion of her job’s responsibilities centers around defining the scope, nature, and inherent limitations of the work. For example, many field positions end up being seasonal, as “weather dictates how and when we work.” She’s also actively involved in the selection process for classes, remaining engaged with students who have been selected and putting as many of them to work as soon as possible. In her time with The Walbec Group, Griffith has seen nearly 20 people from WRTP/BIG STEP hired on, many of whom were graduates of the TrANS Program.
Apprenticeships, depending on the trade, can last anywhere from 3-5 years; wages begin in the low $20 per hour with competitive benefits and progressive wage increases. For more information, feel free to get in touch by calling WRTP/BIG STEP at (414) 342-9787 or joining us for one of our informational sessions: https://wrtp.org/events.