by Ross Nugent, BR2011
People are often viewed as the most important resource that any organization has. This is true, especially as you climb the levels of an organization. It’s becoming more commonplace for businesses to provide workforce development opportunities. It makes sense: employees remain with the company for long enough to qualify for further education that’s paid for, and the company receives a more capable workforce. Often times, the focus is on allowing white-collar employees to obtain a higher education degree or certification that would otherwise be impractical for the employee to pay for themselves. Although, the same principle works for blue-collar employees.
In the last few months, I’ve worked with the workforce development office for the Department of Public Works in Baton Rouge. I’ve been able to see and understand the demands that a city has in regards to obtaining and keeping skilled workers. The city has to compete with all of the other cities in the state for skilled labor. While the pay scale for DPW is lower than that of other, similar sized cities, Baton Rouge makes up for it with educational and promotional opportunities that help prevent turnover. These opportunities range from community college coursework to easier entry into trade unions for jobs such as pipefitting and electrical work. Employees have to submit applications for such benefits, and I have taken part in reviewing what makes an applicant qualified. These benefits are a win-win. They let DPW still keep costs low; while at the same time give workers a meaningful incentive that isn’t purely financial.
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