SPECIAL REPORT 275

THE WORKFORCE CHALLENGE

RECRUITING, TRAINING, AND RETAINING QUALIFIED WORKERS FOR TRANSPORTATION AND TRANSIT AGENCIES

Committee on Future Surface Transportation Agency Human Resource Needs: Strategies for Recruiting, Training, and Retaining Personnel

TRANSPORTATION RESEARCH BOARD OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES

Transportation Research Board

Washington, D.C.

2003

www.TRB.org



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The Workforce Challenge: Recruiting, Training, and Retaining Qualified Workers for Transportation and Transit agencies SPECIAL REPORT 275 THE WORKFORCE CHALLENGE RECRUITING, TRAINING, AND RETAINING QUALIFIED WORKERS FOR TRANSPORTATION AND TRANSIT AGENCIES Committee on Future Surface Transportation Agency Human Resource Needs: Strategies for Recruiting, Training, and Retaining Personnel TRANSPORTATION RESEARCH BOARD OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES Transportation Research Board Washington, D.C. 2003 www.TRB.org

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The Workforce Challenge: Recruiting, Training, and Retaining Qualified Workers for Transportation and Transit agencies Transportation Research Board Special Report 275 Subscriber Categories IA planning and administration VI public transit Transportation Research Board publications are available by ordering individual publications directly from the TRB Business Office, through the Internet at www.TRB.org or national-academies.org/trb, or by annual subscription through organizational or individual affiliation with TRB. Affiliates and library subscribers are eligible for substantial discounts. For further information, contact the Transportation Research Board Business Office, 500 Fifth Street, NW, Washington, DC 20001 (telephone 202-334-3213; fax 202-334-2519; or e-mail TRBsales@nas.edu). Copyright 2003 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competencies and with regard for appropriate balance. This report has been reviewed by a group other than the authors according to the procedures approved by a Report Review Committee consisting of members of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The study was sponsored by the Federal Highway Administration and the Research and Special Programs Administration of the U.S. Department of Transportation and by the National Cooperative Highway Research Program, Transportation Research Board. Cover photo credits: Left, courtesy of Transit Authority of River City, Louisville, Kentucky; left center, courtesy of Virginia Department of Transportation, Tom Saunders, photographer; right center and right, courtesy of University of Dayton, Dayton, Ohio, Larry Burgess, photographer. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data The workforce challenge : recruiting, training, and retaining qualified workers for transportation and transit agencies / Committee on Future Surface Transportation Agency Human Resource Needs: Strategies for Recruiting, Training, and Retaining Personnel, Transportation Research Board of the National Academies. p. cm.—(Special report / Transportation Research Board ; 275) Includes bibliographical references. ISBN 0-309-08563-2 1. Transport workers—United States. 2. Transport workers—Recruiting—United States. 3. Transport workers—Training of—United States. I. Committee on Future Surface Transportation Agency Human Resource Needs. II. National Research Council (U.S.). Transportation Research Board. III. Special report (National Research Council (U.S.). Transportation Research Board) ; 275. HD8039.T7W67 2003 354.76′26′0973—dc22 2003055568

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The Workforce Challenge: Recruiting, Training, and Retaining Qualified Workers for Transportation and Transit agencies THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES Advisers to the Nation on Science, Engineering, and Medicine The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. On the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. William A. Wulf is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, on its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both the Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts and Dr. William A. Wulf are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Research Council. The Transportation Research Board is a division of the National Research Council, which serves the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering. The Board’s mission is to promote innovation and progress in transportation through research. In an objective and interdisciplinary setting, the Board facilitates the sharing of information on transportation practice and policy by researchers and practitioners; stimulates research and offers research management services that promote technical excellence; provides expert advice on transportation policy and programs; and disseminates research results broadly and encourages their implementation. The Board’s varied activities annually engage more than 4,000 engineers, scientists, and other transportation researchers and practitioners from the public and private sectors and academia, all of whom contribute their expertise in the public interest. The program is supported by state transportation departments, federal agencies including the component administrations of the U.S. Department of Transportation, and other organizations and individuals interested in the development of transportation. www.TRB.org www.national-academies.org

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The Workforce Challenge: Recruiting, Training, and Retaining Qualified Workers for Transportation and Transit agencies Committee on Future Surface Transportation Agency Human Resource Needs: Strategies for Recruiting, Training, and Retaining Personnel David L. Winstead, Chair, Holland & Knight, LLP Anthony L. Alarid, New Mexico State Highway and Transportation Department (retired) David S. Ferguson, Florida Department of Transportation Margaret L. Forde, Northeast Houston Community College Cameron Gordon, American Council on Intergovernmental Relations Damian J. Kulash, Eno Foundation for Transportation (retired) Paul J. Larrousse, Rutgers University John M. Mason, Jr., Pennsylvania State University Myra Howze Shiplett, National Academy of Public Administration Thomas R. Smith, Wilbur Smith Associates Darwin G. Stuart, Chicago Transit Authority (retired) Paul E. Torgersen (NAE), Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University Liaison Representatives Joseph Toole, Federal Highway Administration Timothy Klein, Research and Special Programs Administration K. Thirumalai, Research and Special Programs Administration Transportation Research Board Staff Walter Diewald, Senior Program Officer

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The Workforce Challenge: Recruiting, Training, and Retaining Qualified Workers for Transportation and Transit agencies PREFACE This nation benefits greatly from the work of its transportation agencies and the physical infrastructure and transportation services they make possible. As the nation continues to reap these benefits, and as it demands more facilities and service, these agencies—federal, state, and local—face unprecedented challenges in recruiting and retaining the workforce they need to function effectively. There are many reasons for these challenges: high levels of agency retirements as the baby boom generation leaves the workforce; program growth to meet the needs of travelers and shippers; new transportation and workplace methods, materials, and technologies; and an expanding array of technical, environmental, and other issues for agencies to address. The private-sector component of the transportation industry, which supports these agencies and performs many of the same activities, is made up of thousands of private contractors and consultants that build facilities and supply materials, equipment, and services. These companies employ a similar workforce and face many of the same challenges as do the agencies. The committee reviewed voluminous written material and conducted extended briefings to obtain more information about specific details on current and future transportation workforce issues. A previous study on future transportation professional needs provided considerable guidance to the committee about key issues (TRB 1985). A more recent survey of state transportation agency staffing plans was useful in describing the current state of human resource activities in state departments of transportation (SDOTs) (New Mexico State Highway and Transportation Department 1999). Two key events, the 1999 Minnesota Transportation Workforce Summit and the 2002 National Transportation Workforce Summit in Washington, D.C., focused increasing attention on transportation workforce issues and the need for a national approach to address them. Reports from

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The Workforce Challenge: Recruiting, Training, and Retaining Qualified Workers for Transportation and Transit agencies both summits were helpful to the committee in understanding the state and national perspectives (Henderson Associates 2000; FHWA 2002). The committee also benefited from the support of the staff of its key sponsoring agencies, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the Research and Special Programs Administration (RSPA), and the SDOTs, through the National Cooperative Highway Research Program. Studies of U.S. demographic, education, and employment trends point to many factors affecting the nation’s workforce and underscore the difficulties of predicting how these factors affect any one economic sector or single organization (Hudson Institute 1987; Hudson Institute 1997). Many of these factors—for example, changing birth and immigration rates, college enrollment trends, and a competitive labor market—have implications for all employers, including transportation agencies. Any examination of the transportation workforce needs to recognize this broader context and its implications. This study addressed how transportation agencies can adjust to their workforce challenges and to labor market realities through their human resource activities, namely recruiting, training, retaining, and succession management. Many SDOTs, in response to changing agency missions, program growth, demand for more facilities and services, and other factors, are still deciding how they will accomplish their mission and with what combination of in-house staff and contractors. While transit agencies are strongly focused on the need to recruit transit operators and equipment maintenance staff, who make up about 75 percent of the transit workforce, they are struggling to address other workforce needs as well. Transportation agencies are taking steps to identify their core competency needs, individual staff competency needs, and competency gaps within the agencies. They are also beginning to investigate nontraditional sources for qualified employees as well as ways to develop individual competencies by training the existing workforce. The transportation workforce needs employees from a wide range of educational and technical backgrounds. There are an increasing number of alternative sources for these employees, and they offer new opportunities for the agencies to meet their workforce needs. It is ev-

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The Workforce Challenge: Recruiting, Training, and Retaining Qualified Workers for Transportation and Transit agencies ident that in recruiting, training, and retaining employees in transportation agencies, one size does not fit all. Success depends on identifying the strategic needs and applying a mix of measures to meet those needs. Keys to individual agency success are an agency strategic plan and a commitment to making human resource activities a strategic agency partner in addressing the agency mission. The committee’s recommendations are aimed at a broad range of agency needs and include all types of agencies. While this study focused on workforce issues pertaining to surface transportation agencies, the committee’s recommendations recognize that others—the private sector, educational institutions, unions, and employees—must be involved in addressing those issues. The opportunity to partner is great, as is the potential for collaboration and cooperation on many fronts. Sometimes it will not be easy because of rules and regulations that require distance between public- and private-sector activities, but examples from many partnerships and collaborations in other sectors suggest that barriers can be overcome. The audience for this report is broad. At the federal level it includes Congress, the administration, and officials of the U.S. Department of Transportation and the modal administrations involved with surface transportation: primarily FHWA, the Federal Transit Administration, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and RSPA. It also includes the nation’s governors, the chief executives of SDOTs and their human resource directors, and the executive staff and human resource directors of the nation’s transit agencies. Their counterparts in the private-sector transportation industry—consultants, contractors, and suppliers—are included in the report’s audience, as are educators and trainers from colleges, universities, and training institutes that support the transportation industry. Finally, today’s transportation workforce and the associations and unions that represent them are a key audience for the report. The study was conducted under the overall supervision of Stephen R. Godwin, Director of Studies and Information Services for the Transportation Research Board (TRB). Walter J. Diewald served as project director and prepared this report under the direction of the

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The Workforce Challenge: Recruiting, Training, and Retaining Qualified Workers for Transportation and Transit agencies committee. Thomas Humphrey prepared background material for the committee on workforce capacity building. Cinde Weatherby Gilliland reviewed transportation workforce data sources. The committee thanks Suzanne Schneider, Assistant Executive Director of TRB, who managed the report review process. The report was edited by Rona Briere and Norman Solomon and was prepared for publication under the supervision of Nancy Ackerman, TRB’s Director of Publications. This report has been reviewed by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the National Research Council’s Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making the published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. The committee thanks the following individuals for their participation in the review of this report: Mary Davis, McGlothin Davis, Inc., Denver, Colorado; Neil Grigg, Colorado State University, Fort Collins; Delon Hampton, Delon Hampton & Associates, Chartered, Washington, D.C.; Lt. Gen. Henry J. Hatch, Oakton, Virginia; Lowell Jackson, Northport, Michigan; Don Kettl, University of Wisconsin, Madison; Robert I. Lerman, The Urban Institute, Washington, D.C.; Donald Pritchard, Plover, Wisconsin; and Belle Wheelan, Virginia Department of Education, Richmond. Although the reviewers provided constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the findings and conclusions, nor did they see the final draft before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Robert Frosch, Harvard University, and Lester A. Hoel, University of Virginia, Charlottesville. Appointed by the National Research Council, they were responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the institution.

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The Workforce Challenge: Recruiting, Training, and Retaining Qualified Workers for Transportation and Transit agencies REFERENCES Abbreviations FHWA Federal Highway Administration TRB Transportation Research Board FHWA. 2002. National Transportation Workforce Summit: Summary of Proceedings. U.S. Department of Transportation, Washington, D.C., May. Henderson Associates. 2000. Minnesota Summit on Civil Engineering Workforce Development. Final Report 2000–23. Nov. Hudson Institute. 1987. Workforce 2000—Work and Workers for the 21st Century. Indianapolis, Ind. Hudson Institute. 1997. Workforce 2020—Work and Workers in the 21st Century. Indianapolis, Ind. New Mexico State Highway and Transportation Department. 1999. Staffing Plan Survey of State Transportation Agencies. Research Report NM99, ADM-01. Sept. TRB. 1985. Special Report 207: Transportation Professionals: Future Needs and Opportunities. National Research Council, Washington, D.C.

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The Workforce Challenge: Recruiting, Training, and Retaining Qualified Workers for Transportation and Transit agencies ABBREVIATIONS AND ACRONYMS AASHTO American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials APTA American Public Transportation Association APWA American Public Works Association ARTBA American Road and Transportation Builders Association ASCE American Society of Civil Engineers ATA American Trucking Associations CAAA Clean Air Act Amendments EPA Environmental Protection Agency FHWA Federal Highway Administration FMCSA Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration FRA Federal Railroad Administration FTA Federal Transit Administration FTE full-time equivalent GAO General Accounting Office ISTEA Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 ITE Institute of Transportation Engineers ITS intelligent transportation systems LTAP Local Technical Assistance Program MPO metropolitan planning organization NAE National Academy of Engineering NAPA National Asphalt Paving Association NAPA National Academy for Public Administration NAS National Academy of Sciences NCHRP National Cooperative Highway Research Program NHI National Highway Institute NHTSA National Highway Traffic Safety Administration NRC National Research Council NSTC National Science and Technology Council NSF National Science Foundation NTI National Transit Institute OMB Office of Management and Budget OST Office of the Secretary of Transportation OSTP Office of Science and Technology Policy RSPA Research and Special Programs Administration SDOT state department of transportation SP&R State Planning and Research Program TEA-21 Transportation Equity Act of the 21st Century (1998) TCRP Transit Cooperative Research Program TFHRC Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center (FHWA) TA transit agency TRB Transportation Research Board USDOT U.S. Department of Transportation

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The Workforce Challenge: Recruiting, Training, and Retaining Qualified Workers for Transportation and Transit agencies CONTENTS     Executive Summary   1 1   Introduction   11      What Surface Transportation Agencies Do   13      Why This Is an Important Issue   15      Study Approach   16      Organization of the Report   20      Addendum: Presentations to the Committee   23 2   Transportation Agency Work and the Workforce   25      Work and Workforce Issues Facing State Transportation Agencies   28      Work and Workforce Issues Facing Transit Agencies   40      Characterizing Key Transportation Agency Job Categories   45      Summary   46      Annex 2-1: Extent of and Variations in Contracting Out at SDOTs   51 3   Traditional and Emerging Sources for Transportation and Transit Agency Personnel and Training   56      Universities and Colleges   58      Community Colleges   62      Targeted Education and Training Programs   64

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The Workforce Challenge: Recruiting, Training, and Retaining Qualified Workers for Transportation and Transit agencies      Nontraditional Education Programs   73      Challenges for Distance Learning: Accreditation and Validation   78      Making Training a Priority   80      Leadership: A Federal Role and Responsibility   88      Summary   90 4   Addressing People and Skill Needs in Transportation Agencies: Recruiting, Training, and Retaining Personnel   94      Importance of Strategic Human Resource Management   96      Core Competencies and Job Requirements   98      Recruiting Qualified People   101      Training the Workforce: Providing a Continuous Learning Environment   107      Workforce Retention   112      Succession Management   115      Partnering and Cooperative Efforts   121      Summary   126 5   Data and Analysis Needs   132      Key Data Needs   132      Areas for Additional Analysis   134 6   Findings and Recommendations   136      Findings   137      Recommendations   140     Appendices     A   Key Differences Between the Federal Highway Administration’s Program and Roles During the Interstate Era and the Early 21st Century   147 B   Recent Professional Capacity–Building Efforts   151

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The Workforce Challenge: Recruiting, Training, and Retaining Qualified Workers for Transportation and Transit agencies C   University Transportation Research Centers   159 D   Core Competency Statements for Selected State Departments of Transportation   164 E   Contracting Out and Core Competencies   169 F   Background on State-Funded Training Programs   173 G   Attracting People to Transportation Careers   175     Study Committee Biographical Information   181

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