Idaho Transportation Department’s Heavy Equipment Operator Program Trains the Next Generation Skilled Workforce

The Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) created a pilot Heavy Equipment Operator program in order to provide free training and certification opportunities to disadvantaged populations including Veterans, Native Americans, Hispanics, Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders, and Women to address a decline in the number of skilled workers in the transportation industry.  This year’s program is particularly interested in providing opportunities to Veterans. The ITD Heavy Equipment Operator program is funded through a competitive “Ladders of Opportunity” grant.

The training for this program is provided in coordination with the Inland Northwest Associated General Contractors and meets the apprenticeship training standards recognized across the country. This training includes an introduction to the trades as well as safety, blueprint reading, and basic operational techniques. Trainees receive hands-on training with 10 types of heavy equipment including: graders, skid steers, backhoes, loaders, excavators, mini-excavators, rollers, haul-trucks, dozers, and forklifts. The program also covers Flagger Certification, OHSA-10, First Aid, and CPR. Upon completion of this training, participants receive a certification. ITD hosts an “Industry Day” where trainees can meet with potential employers. Potential employers have the opportunity to watch the trainees operate equipment and if satisfied with their performance, the contractor may hire the trainee on the spot. Several contractors have shown interest in attending this year’s Industry Day.

The program had 20 trainee positions available, and ITD received nearly 600 applications to the program from across the US. The program has had great success is placing trainees into available positions. Upon completion of the pilot program two years ago, 100% of the program graduates were employed as equipment operators.

To learn more about the ITD Heavy Equipment Operator program, please contact Russ Rivera at