Helping people with disabilities find employment is the focus of the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) Community Advisors on Recruitment and Retention Solutions (MnCARRS) program. MnCARRS marked its one-year anniversary on Nov. 13, with a celebration that highlighted program achievements.
MnCARRS is a community partnership composed of Mn/DOT employees and community leaders representing minority communities’ women, veterans and people with disabilities. This collaboration was created to build recruitment partnerships between Mn/DOT and communities that are underrepresented. Through these efforts more than 30 minority communities members were referred and placed; among them, four from the disability community.
“This is one of MnDOT’s steps in building lasting relationships within the various underrepresented communities in Minnesota,” said Eric Davis, Mn/DOT human resources director. “MnCARRS provides an opportunity for candidates to fill positions throughout the entire agency—not just engineering jobs or snowplow operator openings. The diverse employment participation isn’t what we want it to be at Mn/DOT.”
Mn/DOT’s Recruitment Programs Manager Emma Corrie said “This is the first time we have had such a diverse applicant/hiring pool for these jobs.”
One hope those involved in MnCARRS have for this avant-garde model of collaboration between government agencies is that it could work beneficially for a number of government agencies. Recently, after learning of some of the MnCARRS efforts, Mn/DOT was approached by the Department of Human Services-Minnesota Family Investment Program (DHS-MFIP) program and Ramsey County about employee recruitment. Now, Mn/DOT has a contract with DHS and Ramsey County to assist MFIP recipients in gaining employment at Mn/DOT locations across the state.
“The beauty of this program is that individual organizations were able to look at the business needs of Mn/DOT and recruit individuals that would meet those needs and supply support services that would increase retention of the candidates,” said Steve Kuntz of Minnesota Rehabilitative Services. Heidi Bryand was hired temporarily as an office administrative specialist by Mn/DOT. After three months she was hired as a permanent employee. Bryand, who has a disability, says “the most challenging part of her job is calming down irate callers and directing them to the right agency to solve their immediate road needs. The most satisfying “is being employed and part of a team that can see their accomplishments.” MnCARRS members serve as recruiters within their own communities for Mn/DOT jobs. Since the group formed, members have attended career fairs, job information events and mock interview sessions at various locations. The group is involved in the entire continuum from recruitment—to selection—to mentoring individuals on the job after they are hired.
Highlights of the past year include:
• Effective representation of minority communities, women, veterans and people with disabilities. The group has served as a valuable recruitment resource for transportation specialist series and other positions.
• The group was actively involved with the recruitment for the recent transportation associate positions filled by MnDOT Metro Maintenance. Of the 73 candidates hired, 30 MnCARRS referrals were hired statewide since October 2008
• MnCARRS members have hosted meetings providing Mn/DOT with an opportunity to learn more about their employment opportunities. Meetings have been held at the Minneapolis Urban League, Hmong American Partnership, Chicanos Latinos Unido en Servicio CLUES, Summit Academy Opportunities Industrialization Center (OIC), American Indian OIC, Merrick Community Center and East Metro OIC.
• MnCARRS members have visited Mn/DOT locations to learn about operations and help them recruit qualified candidates within their communities. Recent visits were to Mn/DOT truck stations and snow plow operator training tour at Camp Ripley.
• MnCARRS was a major resource while Mn/DOT recruited for the commercial driver’s license training pilot program at Century College. Three additional classes are scheduled for 2010
• A MnCARRS team member is now formally assisting Mn/DOT Human Resources staff with integrating diversity into the competency-based interview training for supervisors.
• MnCARRS serves as a positive voice within a larger diverse community about Mn/DOT and its efforts to diversify its workforce and partner with their communities.