SCHUYLKILL HAVEN – With the inevitable winter weather in mind, officials at the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s Schuylkill County maintenance facility are hoping to be fully staffed and trying new ways to find employees.

For the first time, PennDOT Engineering District 5 had an on-site interview at a job fair Wednesday at the East Main Street premises. Those who came to the fair could complete an online application using a laptop computer set up at eight tables in the facility.

David Lafko, talent acquisition analyst for Allentown-based PennDOT Engineering District 5, said this was done to be competitive with hiring.

“What you are seeing right now is the competitive nature of the drivers (commercial driver’s license), if you take three or four weeks to bring someone in, they’ve already left for another job,” he said. -he declares.

Lafko said the setup shortens the hiring process from weeks to a day.

“It helps us recruit new employees much faster,” he said.

In Schuylkill County, PennDOT has eight Transportation Equipment Operator positions, one Diesel and Construction Equipment Mechanic, and one Automotive Mechanic position open. These are full-time seasonal positions, with employees working from October to late March or early April.

Four people attended the fair on Wednesday, one of whom was interviewed for a craftsman helper position, the person who assists PennDOT mechanics. Despite the low numbers, Lafko said, the fair has always been successful because it allowed PennDOT staff to interact with new people. Those who attended were able to learn not only about the open positions, but also about PennDOT’s work culture and employment opportunities within the agency beyond those currently available.

Lafko said PennDOT hopes to hire 12 operators, who are responsible for various tasks, including snow removal, traffic control and equipment repair, in Schuylkill County.

There are 108 employees who work at PennDOT’s Schuylkill County Maintenance Facility, 80 of whom operate snow plow trucks in two 12-hour shifts. Kevin Kull, deputy county manager for PennDOT, said 68 people currently manage the trucks, with 12 additional employees needed to operate at full capacity.

Hiring operators now, Lafko said, ensures they can be trained with the equipment and know their areas of responsibility.

He said hiring for winter maintenance positions has been slow this year, with mechanic positions and those requiring a commercial driver’s license being particularly difficult to fill. Finances are the number one reason people don’t apply, Lafko added.

The starting salary for a transportation equipment operator is $ 19.72 an hour, but once an employee is certified, it drops to $ 21.37 an hour, which he says can occur within six months of hiring.

In addition, those hired for seasonal positions have the opportunity to access permanent full-time positions. Positions include health benefits, vacations and employees covered by unions.

“We are very proud of what we do because we have a direct impact on the community,” said Lafko. “There is a lot of camaraderie in our organization.

Open positions are listed online at employment.pa.gov under “winter interview.”

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