Certificate Program Prepares Public Works Leaders

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Public works touches so many aspects of our lives, from the roads we drive to the clean water coming from our taps, from government agencies to the buildings that house them. It takes an army of people to produce and sustain it all, and it takes leaders to organize and manage them. That’s where the Public Works Certificate comes in, a five-course certificate program that aims to make leaders of public works professionals.

The certificate is offered through the Minnesota chapter of the American Public Works Association (APWA-MN) and is part of a larger national program, which is now being delivered through the University of Minnesota College of Continuing and Professional Studies. “We’ve been offering the program for over 20 years,” says APWA-MN chair Monica Heil. “We get the outline from the national group, and we’ve added components that we felt were necessary, such as writing and communicating with the public.”

The program covers all aspects of public works, is taught by local working professionals, and is geared toward those looking to further their careers. “We’re preparing administrators for leadership positions, to work with agencies and elected and appointed officials, which is a big part of the job,” says Heil.

We’re teaching leadership versus management.

Dave Hutton agrees. He’s been teaching the Public Works Management and Communication course for seven years and believes it’s the most critical course for front-line workers who want to become supervisors, foremen, or superintendents. “We’re teaching leadership versus management,” says Hutton, a past APWA-MN president with 40 years of public works experience. “It’s fulfilling to get feedback from students telling me the courses really made a difference in their career advancement.”

Tammi Hays, a park maintenance worker for the City of Maplewood, took Hutton’s course and says it was fantastic. “It was so informative and offered so many alternative ways to approach the various situations and personalities that we face in the field every day.” Hays is pursuing the certificate to boost her resume in hopes of becoming a park supervisor or superintendent.

Mike Lillie, who works in parks and facilities for the City of White Bear Lake, says he completed the certificate to learn a broad range of skills and parlay them into an administrative role. “This program has really advanced my technical-thinking process. I would highly recommend this program to anyone looking to step up … and broaden their own leadership skills.”

The five courses needed to complete the 30-hour certificate are Public Works Management and Communication, Office and Professional Skill for Public Works, Public Works Operations and Maintenance, Public Works Organization and Administration, and Technical Aspects of Public Works.

Visit the Public Works Certificate website for more information.