Works & Transportation Department, Brampton, Ontario, Canada
Service area: 166 square miles
No. employees: 1,000
Annual budget: $99,408,083 (operating); $157,174,000 (capital)
Services: Operations, Engineering and Construction, Transit, Fleet Services, Business Services
Approximate cost: $300
Five Tips from Brampton Works & Transportation Department
1) Open a dialogue with the school as soon as possible once school begins. Ask to speak with principals, guidance counselors, or the people responsible for organizing a career day event.
2) Don’t limit outreach to one age or grade. Brampton’s presented at elementary schools, high schools, and even colleges.
3) Provide a full cross-section of possible careers. Some students are interested in positions such as fleet maintenance welder or bus operator, that require only a high school diploma.
4) If you have a choice, conduct an in-class presentation instead of exhibiting at a career fair where you’ll be competing for students’ attention.
5) Have lots of giveaways like magnets and pens to draw students in and get them asking about your services and roles.
The approach varies depending on what each school allows, but for six years the City of Brampton’s Works & Transportation Department has used NPWW to promote the profession by both participating in already established career days and going to schools to present its own career forum.
Each year, six members of the department’s 23-employee NPWW committee schedules the visits, works with the schools on content and format, and decides what each Career Forum Subcommittee member’s role will be. Generally, a team of five rotates attending the events; some or all attend depending on their availability.
“We try our best to have staff who can represent the various positions available across our department,” says Roxanne Van Damme, support services coordinator for Works & Transportation and Career Forum Lead. In the past, that’s included a construction inspector, traffic signal technologists, planning, and maintenance field technologists. “We also have an organizational chart that visually shows the wide variety of opportunities available in public works,” she says.
Waiting until NPWW in May often meant teachers couldn’t find time to fit the presentation in, so this year the subcommittee worked around each school’s curriculum. The schools generally have career forums during the beginning of the school year.
This year, employees participated in the 10th Annual EcoBuzz Conference, Fall Destination Fair at Turner Fenton Secondary School, and Post Secondary Conference at Mayfield Secondary School as lead-up toward the department’s NPWW celebrations May 19–25.
“We have the most success participating in events that have a presentation component,” says Van Damme. “You don’t have as much interaction with students when you’re just standing at a display table handing out swag. There’s less opportunity to get them interested in public works.”
Since employees who conduct the forums travel to the schools, the cost to the department is minimal: time out of the office and trinkets like pamphlets, notepads, magnets, pens and pencils. Because of the low cost, the event hasn’t been affected by budget cuts.