The Value of the County Engineer: Strategies to Expand the Shrinking Employment Pool, HR-338, 1993

(1993) The Value of the County Engineer: Strategies to Expand the Shrinking Employment Pool, HR-338, 1993. Transportation, Department of


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The first phase of this research involved an effort to identify the issues relevant to gaining a better understanding of the County Engineering profession. A related objective was to develop strategies to attract responsible, motivated and committed professionals to pursue County Engineering positions. In an era where a large percentage of County Engineers are reaching retirement age, the shrinking employment pool may eventually jeopardize the quality of secondary road systems not only in Iowa, but nationwide. As we move toward the 21st century, in an era of declining resources, it is likely that professional staff members in charge of secondary roads will find themselves working with less flexible budgets for the construction and maintenance of roads and bridges. It was important to understand the challenges presented to them, and the degree to which those challenges will demand greater expertise in prioritizing resource allocations for the rehabilitation and maintenance of the 10 million miles of county roads nationwide. Only after understanding what a county engineer is and what this person does will it become feasible for the profession to begin "selling itself", i.e., attracting a new generation of County Engineers. Reaching this objective involved examining the responsibilities, goals, and, sometimes, the frustrations experienced by those persons in charge of secondary road systems in the nine states that agreed to participate in the study. The second phase of this research involved addressing ways to counter the problems associated with the exodus of County Engineers who are reaching retirement age. Many of the questions asked of participants asked them to compare the advantages and disadvantages of public sector work with the private sector. Based on interviews with nearly 50 County Engineers and feedback from 268 who returned surveys for the research, issues relevant to the profession were analyzed and recommendations were made to the profession as it prepares to attract a new generation. It was concluded that both State and Regional Associations for County Engineers, and the National Association of County Engineers are most well-situated to present opportunities for continued professional development. This factor is appealing for those who are interested in competitive advantages as professionals. While salaries in the public sector may not be able to effectively compete with those offered by the private sector, it was concluded that this is only one factor of concern to those who are in the business of "public service". It was concluded, however, that Boards of Supervisors and their equivalents in other states will need to more clearly understand the value of the contributions made by County Engineers. Then the selling points the profession can hope to capitalize on can focus on the strength of state organizations and a strong national organization that act as clearinghouses of information and advocates for the profession, as well as anchors that provide opportunities for staying current on issues and technologies.

Item Type: Departmental Report
Keywords: Continuing education, Counties, Data collection, Engineers, Governments, Highway maintenance, Interviewing, Job opportunities, Personnel development, Private enterprise, Professional personnel, Ratings, Resource allocation, Retirement, Road construction, Salaries, Secondary roads, Strategic planning, Surveys, Responsibilities
Subjects: Transportation
Transportation > Roads and highways
Transportation > Research
ID Code: 16394
Deposited By: Iowa DOT Library
Deposited On: 18 Mar 2014 20:34
Last Modified: 05 Nov 2014 15:56