Increased hires of women, minorities and disadvantaged businesses for transportation construction projects over the last three years are being reported by the Minnesota Department of Transportation.
New figures from MnDOT show 3,200 workers were employed on federally-funded state transportation construction projects during this year's peak in August. Of these, 8.5 percent were minorities, up from 7.5 percent in 2010. MnDot reports 143 women were hired in 2011, compared to 87 in 2010, and 62 in 2009.
Mary Prescott, director of MnDOT's Office of Civil Rights, said the agency has made a concerted effort to diversify its workforce. MnDOT has used on-the-job training and apprenticeships to move women, minorities and disadvantaged persons into professional positions. MnDOT is also showing improvement following employees.
"We didn't track where they went from one job to one job after they got laid off from one," Prescott said. "Now we track where they are to keep tabs on the prime contractors we are working with."
MnDOT's goal in the metro area is that 11 percent of its workers are minorities, and 6 percent are women.
"We've run at least four or five commercial drivers license training programs, there was recently a partnership between Summit Academy in north Minneapolis and the Local 49rs Union, and that is just a sample of programs that have helped us," Prescott said.