Over the last three years, I’ve quite often been asked, what is UDOT U and what can it do for employees?
The simplest answer to the first part of this question is UDOT University is UDOT’s learning organization; in other words, it is a fancy name for the training the department delivers. To answer the second part of the question, what can [UDOT U] do for employees, I’ll list what UDOT U does, and then employees can decide if there is anything that might be of value to them.
UDOT U does the following things: (1) provide UDOT employees and stakeholders with opportunities for learning and development, (2) facilitate partnerships with other learning organizations, (3) provide tools and infrastructure to track training hours and training effectiveness, and (4) assist subject-matter areas find ways to fund needed training.
Providing learning opportunities
UDOT-hosted NHI courses, breakout sessions at the UDOT Annual Conference, and webinars using Adobe Connect are all examples of learning opportunities UDOT U has provided to 13,000 attendees over the last couple of years. We’re in the process of adding to our course catalog, powered by Adobe Connect; go here to browse the 100+ offerings: www.connect.udot.utah.gov. We’re adding more every day. We contract with groups and work with vendors to keep marginal costs down for our business units.
As a learning organization UDOT U attempts to provide development opportunities for employees. Funds, obviously, are not unlimited so we look for ways to get the biggest bang for our buck. Purchasing licenses for Lynda.com; bringing in external subject matter experts through NHI, AASHTO, and local universities; and refocusing the breakout sessions at the UDOT Annual Conference to center on training has provided employees easy access to learning opportunities. The tuition assistance program, although more strictly a benefit than a training program, has allowed many UDOT employees to seek accredited degrees from local colleges and universities.
Fostering learning and sharing
UDOT U has assisted the department initiate TRAC and RIDES programs, AASHTO-sponsored STEM initiatives for primary and secondary schools. Through this program UDOT provides needed materials and expertise to schools. Teachers use the materials to present engineering- and transportation- related lessons to future engineers and technicians.
UDOT U is also in the beginning stages of partnering with the research division to develop ways to capture, organize, and manage employees’ considerable knowledge and experience. We are looking for ways to make institutional memory shareable. We’re at the very beginning of the project; your ideas for how this might best be accomplished are welcome.
UDOT U has developed a central website that acts as a portal leading employees to the learning opportunities offered in the department. Our course catalog, webinar software, and other tools are available for use by all UDOT employees and in most cases outside contractors and consultants.
Providing funding for training
The training budget has steadily increased over the years as our internal groups and subject matter experts have made good use of the funds. This last fiscal year (FY 2014), the budget was double the previous year. This commitment to funding demonstrates senior leaders’ commitment to learning, innovation, and developing employees.
Hopefully, it’s clear that UDOT U is here to serve employees’ and our partners’ learning needs. If there are ways we can help, please do not hesitate to contact us.
This guest post was written by Richard Murdock, UDOT U Administrative Vice President, and was orginally published in the UDOT U Summer 2014 newsletter.