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Connecticut facing snowplow driver shortage as winter nears

The state department of transportation is seeking to hire nearly 140 more drivers to address a 13% driver shortage.

HARTFORD, Conn. —  It may be difficult to look ahead to the winter right now, but that’s what the Connecticut Department of Transportation is focusing in on, as they work to fill major gaps in their workforce.

DOT Commissioner, Joseph J. Giulietti, said they have lost around 13 % of their workforce. That comes out to them around 130 workers. By June, Giulietti said they're expecting that number to grow to 1,000.

The main message from Giulietti, however, is that though they do have a shortage of workers, they do have a "plan B" with outside contractors to get the job done this winter.

"I need to make sure that everybody understands that the people that are working here, when a storm hits, they are totally dedicated," Giulietti said. 

The shortage in the DOT can be attributed to the mass retirement the state is seeing right now plus the availability of other jobs. Giulietti said it's been tough to try to compete with the private sector, offering crazy incentives and sign-on bonuses.

But, the gap in the workforce has been growing for a while, now made worse by the pandemic. Last year, the DOT was short by 110 employees. 

In the meantime, they will rely on outside contractors as they work to hire more people.

"We put all of our contractors on notice that, get ready. We have a lot of work coming your way. There's a lot of work for us to do going forward. I need everything from the drivers that you've heard, but I also need engineers, I need planners, I need people that can work with I.T. technology. So you name it, we have those types of jobs here at the DOT," Commissioner Giulietti said. 

Some good news, the commissioner said things are in good shape when it comes to the supply of trucks and saline.

They are hiring and have posted ads for work on their website.

If it gets to the point where they can't find enough workers or contractors, the governor would have the power to call on the national guard to help out.

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