DBEs in Action
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The mission of the Mississippi Department of Transportation Office of Civil rights is to ensure equal opportunity in employment by encouraging workforce diversity and eliminating unlawful discrimination in benefits, business opportunities and services.
The Office of Civil Rights was created to bring together under one umbrella all the civil rights functions of the agency. The Division is charged with oversight of the agencies Title VI activities, the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Program, the On-the-Job Training Program, Internal Equal Employment Opportunity compliance, External Contract Compliance, and the American with Disabilities Act compliance.
One of the main objectives of the Division is to ensure that the agency maintains an enjoyable work environment free from discrimination, retaliation, and hostility. We want to ensure that every employee is given equal opportunity to participate in training, promotions, and any other activities that will serve to enhance and develop the employee into a more well-rounded individual and a better MDOT employee.
In 2004, the Mississippi Department of Transportation in partnership with local municipalities, transit agencies, aeronautics, the Federal Highway Administration and other entities joined to create a Unified Certified Certification Program. This program provides on-stop shopping for potential DBE firms wishing to be certified and considered to meet a goal on federally funded projects. Once a DBE is certified with anyone of the participating agencies, they are automatically certified with all, thus eliminating duplication of paperwork. Hence, applications for certification can be obtained from any participating agency. There are over 200 certified DBE firms in the State of Mississippi that benefit from uniform training, technical assistance, and access to information regarding contracting opportunities under this streamlined program.
The Office of Civil Rights is committed to helping grow the labor force within the State of Mississippi through its On-the-Job Training Program. Contractors are given the opportunity to train employees on any federal or state job following an approved training curriculum and MDOT contributes $3.00 an hour toward that trainee’s salary. The goal is to train common labors in a skilled craft while transitioning them to journeyman status. As a result, the contractor can retain a skilled workforce and the employee has successfully earned a certificate in a particular discipline that will improve their socio-economic situation creating a win/win situation for all.
The Career Construction Fair is yet another way that the Office of Civil Rights seeks to grow the construction labor force. This program is a way to get high school, vocational school, trade school, and community college students thinking about future jobs in transportation. During this event, contractors and equipment dealers are on hand to show off their equipment and provide students with first hand knowledge and information on the many career opportunities available through their various companies. With the help of local industry, MS Road Builders Association, Federal Highway Administration, and the Department of Education, MDOT host three, two-day fairs every year in the Northern, Central, and Southern part of the State.