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Experience: DOH hiring action shows flexibility

West Virginia’s Department of Highways is running into a problem that affects many private employers. A generation of experienced workers is nearing retirement, and when they leave their posts, they will take a wealth of institutional knowledge with them. Officials are pulling out all the stops to recruit highway engineers to fill the ranks, but it is not easy.

“That’s a field that takes some training and experience. It’s difficult to hire a seasoned, veteran engineer. Most have established their careers and have set goals. It’s hard to hire one away from somewhere they’ve set their career path,” said Alan Reed with the Division of Transportation.

As many employees find out after a few years on the job, a degree is one thing, but there is no replacing what you learn while doing any job in the real world. Academic training can take one only so far.

DOH has handed Natasha White the task of filling the anticipated gaps, and she seems to be taking the right approach.

“We’ve decided to open up these job positions twice a year so we can capture the December graduates and the May graduates. The posting will be open until the end of this month, but we were able to have 70 already and we’ve started the interview process and have worked on finding the best fits for those candidates,” she said.

In other words, the jobs are being posted when candidates are ready, rather than when positions are open because someone has retired.

If employers are willing to be flexible and creative –and have a rigorous on-the-job training program in place — they will weather the outgoing storm. Kudos to state officials for find a way to have their farm team ready to step up.

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