Flagger Force is growing. Often times we have more job orders than we have people to fill those orders. Sometimes, the job calls for our flaggers to have special training and certifications, or the type of setup means particular equipment is required. Our services are in high demand and frankly, it’s because we’ve got the best people. We’re not just going to stop and pat ourselves on the back. We’re going to keep innovating and doing everything we can to meet client demand while providing you with the resources you need to do your job safely and with the highest quality. In other words, we need to build our workforce to best support the one we have.
Building and developing a workforce involves recruiting the right people for the job. It also consists of training and retaining skilled people. Building a workforce is the continuous process by which we scout and hire new traffic control professionals. Developing a workforce, or helping employees improve their skills, can be accomplished in different ways, such as providing continuous education or by offering leadership training. This job is not for everyone and sometimes we discover our Flagger Family in uncommon places and through partnering with organizations that compliment us and our VVM.
Finding a Partner to Help Fill Needs
With that in mind, we’re proud to announce a new workforce development partnership with Living Classrooms. Founded in Baltimore in 1985, the Living Classrooms Foundation is a nonprofit that “disrupts the cycle of poverty and makes our community safer, stronger, and healthier by meeting individuals where they are and giving them skills for life.” They work with children, youth, and adults through education; workforce development; health and wellness; and violence prevention programming. In the last year, 24,222 children, youth, and adults were supported by this organization.
Flagger Force met Living Classrooms in the summer of 2018 through our relationships within the community. We were immediately drawn to their mission and their workforce development program—working with individuals who have been incarcerated in the past and/or who are looking for a second chance. They provide training, life-planning, and coaching for the participants of their program. The organization also provides an Adult Resource Center to provide recruitment, training, and basic skills (conflict resolution, computer skills, etc.) to give their members the additional support they need to transition into the workforce successfully. By partnering with Living Classrooms, we have the opportunity to give back to the communities we serve and expand our ability to meet our clients where they need us.
“Our partnership with Flagger Force is a tremendous collaboration for us,” said James Piper Bond, president of Living Classrooms. “By creating entry-level jobs, as well as a pipeline to a career, is a huge factor for us as we build out our program together. One of the things that truly impressed us about Flagger Force was meeting employees who may have started as a crew member, but now are in leadership positions within the company. That is a huge piece of the puzzle for us as we work to provide these individuals a new opportunity they may not have had before.”
Partners & Mentors
You may be wondering about the nuts and bolts of this process—how are these individuals identified to join our company and how do they get to the job site without a vehicle? Living Classrooms and Flagger Force selected the initial six participants through a vetting process. Each went through a formal Flagger Force Academy™ training course and then was matched with one of our mentors in the region. Flagger Force mentors were selected to help guide the new crew members and pick them up every day—normally at a public transit stop near the job. Our mentors are seasoned advanced crew leaders who recognized the opportunity this partnership brings to our company and to them as brand ambassadors and leaders. Assigned to jobs every day together, means they always have a partner. Working together provides many benefits for the new recruits as well as for the mentors—not to mention benefiting the communities we serve and keep safe on the roadways.
“The program is incredible and is a positive experience for all who are involved. We couldn’t be more pleased with how it’s turned out. The new employees are building a career with Flagger Force and the mentors feel good about helping. In fact, more mentors are looking to join,” says John Rommel, field manager and project manager.
Floyd Brown, advanced crew leader in Maryland, is a mentor in the Living Classrooms program. “I liked the idea of having a partner and helping him learn the job. Now I work with Tim every day and have been since October. Being a mentor makes me proud.”