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Introduction

The Committee on Future Surface Transportation Agency Human Resource Needs: Strategies for Recruiting, Training, and Retaining Personnel was formed to study the future human resource needs of transportation agencies and to identify potential strategies for recruiting, training, and retaining these personnel. The charge to the committee is presented in Box 1-1.

The predominant surface transportation agencies—in terms of the number of transportation professionals and operating and support personnel employed—are state departments of transportation or highways (SDOTs) and regional and local transit agencies (TAs). Other public agencies play important roles in surface transportation—rail, water, and intermodal—and also employ transportation specialists. In addition, private engineering, planning, and consulting firms employ a large number of transportation professionals and compete with public agencies for many of the same people and skills in the labor market. Nonetheless, the committee focused primarily on several key employee categories within SDOTs and TAs in its information gathering and discussions. While most of the conclusions and recommendations presented in this report are directed at SDOTs and TAs and these key employee categories, they also apply to other public agencies and private firms, as well as other categories. There are also recommendations aimed at components of the federal government—Congress, the administration, and the U.S. Department of Transportation— responsible for the nation’s transportation system.

The study was requested by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). Funding support was provided from FHWA, the Research



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The Workforce Challenge: Recruiting, Training, and Retaining Qualified Workers for Transportation and Transit agencies 1 Introduction The Committee on Future Surface Transportation Agency Human Resource Needs: Strategies for Recruiting, Training, and Retaining Personnel was formed to study the future human resource needs of transportation agencies and to identify potential strategies for recruiting, training, and retaining these personnel. The charge to the committee is presented in Box 1-1. The predominant surface transportation agencies—in terms of the number of transportation professionals and operating and support personnel employed—are state departments of transportation or highways (SDOTs) and regional and local transit agencies (TAs). Other public agencies play important roles in surface transportation—rail, water, and intermodal—and also employ transportation specialists. In addition, private engineering, planning, and consulting firms employ a large number of transportation professionals and compete with public agencies for many of the same people and skills in the labor market. Nonetheless, the committee focused primarily on several key employee categories within SDOTs and TAs in its information gathering and discussions. While most of the conclusions and recommendations presented in this report are directed at SDOTs and TAs and these key employee categories, they also apply to other public agencies and private firms, as well as other categories. There are also recommendations aimed at components of the federal government—Congress, the administration, and the U.S. Department of Transportation— responsible for the nation’s transportation system. The study was requested by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). Funding support was provided from FHWA, the Research

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The Workforce Challenge: Recruiting, Training, and Retaining Qualified Workers for Transportation and Transit agencies and Special Programs Administration, and the National Cooperative Highway Research Program.1 BOX 1-1 Charge to the Committee The committee charge was to describe how the changing roles and responsibilities of public transportation agencies might reorient their human resource needs over the next two decades. The intent is not to precisely measure shortfalls between labor force supply and demand; rather the intent is to identify the kinds of expertise that will be needed in the future to meet transportation challenges, as well as the likely numbers and capabilities of people, and to compare them with the curricula being offered at universities, colleges, and training institutes and the adequacy of the number of students enrolled in these institutions. The committee will describe strategies that public agencies at all levels can use to recruit and develop staffs they will need. It will also make recommendations to the institutions training students on the mix of personnel needs such public agencies are likely to have and on approaches these institutions can take to develop needed skills of the future transportation workforce. The committee will also identify useful areas of research and technical information exchange. In addition, the committee will comment on (a) the appropriate federal role in supporting university education programs to develop transportation professionals and scholars, with particular regard to the federal oversight, management, and guidance of the University Transportation Centers program and (b) federal provision for training and retraining of transportation professionals. 1 The National Cooperative Highway Research Program is a pooled fund-research program managed and funded by the SDOTs and administered by the Transportation Research Board.

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The Workforce Challenge: Recruiting, Training, and Retaining Qualified Workers for Transportation and Transit agencies WHAT SURFACE TRANSPORTATION AGENCIES DO SDOTs are state agencies responsible for owning, planning, designing, constructing, operating, maintaining, and repairing major components of each state’s transportation system. The modal responsibilities of some SDOTs include highways, airports, ports and waterways, transit, and some railroads. They carry out their responsibilities in partnership with private-sector engineering and construction firms, suppliers of equipment and materials, and other public agencies. Each of the 50 states, plus Washington, D.C., and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, has its own transportation agency. While SDOTs are being asked to address an increasing range of economic, cultural, and social impacts of transportation systems, their primary responsibility remains the segments of the federal Interstate highway and primary highway systems within their borders, as well as their own networks of state highways and other transportation infrastructure. The states own more than 20 percent of the nation’s highways, but average ownership varies, ranging from 8.5 percent in North Dakota to 91.5 percent in West Virginia. In 1997 the states provided about $54 billion for highway-related purposes from vehicle and driver licensing fees and fuel taxes. SDOTs work closely with more than 35,000 jurisdictions—counties, towns, and municipalities— that have some transportation responsibilities.2 States often provide direct assistance to local governments by performing construction and maintenance on some locally owned roads and by distributing state and federal revenues to local governments as grants for highway purposes. Budgets for federal surface transportation programs are determined by Congress and state legislatures; SDOT operating budgets are set by state legislatures. The former budgets have grown considerably in recent years (but could be reduced in the future). Between 2 According to the American Public Works Association (APWA), the public works practitioners employed by these jurisdictions address many topics in their work, including computers and computer applications, solid waste, water resources, municipal engineering, transportation, equipment services, buildings and grounds, and snow removal. (Source: APWA website, www.apwa.net.)

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The Workforce Challenge: Recruiting, Training, and Retaining Qualified Workers for Transportation and Transit agencies FY 1995 and FY 2001, the apportionment of federal funds administered by FHWA increased nearly 60 percent, from $18.1 billion to $28.9 billion (FHWA various years) (see Figure 1-1). TAs include nearly 6,000 state, regional, and local agencies that provide transit service with one or several modes—bus, rail, and demand-responsive systems. Aggregate transit industry statistics mask individual agency characteristics. TAs vary considerably in many respects, including size, service area, responsibility, and jurisdictional complexity. In 1998 only 12 of 478 (2.5 percent) had more than 1,000 vehicles, and just one—New York City—had more than 8,000. More than 53 percent operated fewer than 50 vehicles, and more than 90 percent operated fewer than 250 vehicles. More than 55 percent of all conventional transit passenger miles in the nation are accounted for by the three largest systems—New York City, Chicago, and San Francisco–Oakland—with New York alone accounting for more than 40 percent. Although public ownership dominates today, the history of transit provision in the United States reflects a mix of privately and publicly provided service. The evolution from private to public ownership, FIGURE 1-1 Highway expenditures by government level ($ billions).

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The Workforce Challenge: Recruiting, Training, and Retaining Qualified Workers for Transportation and Transit agencies while not swift, was dramatic. In 1940, only 20 transit systems in the country were publicly owned, and they accounted for just 2 percent of ridership (Black 1991). By 1960, although the vast majority of all systems were still privately owned, public properties accounted for nearly half of all transit ridership, mainly because the country’s very largest systems were publicly owned (Jones 1985). By 1980, more than 500 systems were publicly owned, accounting for 95 percent of ridership nationally (Black 1991). Two key pieces of legislation—the Urban Mass Transportation Act of 1964 (later redesignated the Federal Transit Act) and the 1974 National Mass Transit Assistance Act—established the role of the federal government in the provision of urban transit. Federal aid— loans and grants for transit capital acquisition, construction, and planning beginning in 1964 and operating grants beginning in 1974 —was generally welcomed by states, localities, and distressed private companies alike ( Jones 1985).3 Public funding was also favored by transit labor unions; approximately 75 percent of the current transit workforce is unionized. The transit workforce comprises approximately 225,000 employees. Of this total, about 58 percent are vehicle operators, 20 percent are assigned to vehicle maintenance, and 12 percent are assigned to nonvehicle maintenance.4 The balance of the transit workforce is assigned to general administration.5 WHY THIS IS AN IMPORTANT ISSUE The significance of surface transportation agencies, their workforce, and the transportation system is illustrated by the following key statistics. 3 Federal aid for transit requires local matching funds. 4 By contrast, there are about 2.7 million truck drivers in the United States. 5 According to the National Transit Database. For smaller systems, the percentage of vehicle operators increases. For systems serving areas with a population of 200,000 or less, vehicle operators make up about 72 percent of the workforce.

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The Workforce Challenge: Recruiting, Training, and Retaining Qualified Workers for Transportation and Transit agencies Surface transportation makes up about 8 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product and about 18 percent of average household expenditures, second only to housing. The surface transportation system has an asset value of about $1,300 billion, more than 87 percent of the nation’s total transportation assets. Capital expenditures on transportation infrastructure total more than $130 billion per year; transit system operating costs are about $22.6 billion per year. Private-sector expenditures for passenger and freight transportation are significant. Private-sector spending for highway transportation alone was $688 billion in 1998, 83 percent of all expenditures for passenger transportation. In 1996 Americans spent more than $225 billion on new automobiles and trucks. More than $402 billion was spent in 1997 for truck freight transportation in the United States, about 79 percent of the nation’s freight transportation expenditures. Public-sector transportation agencies employ more than 620,000 people. Total transportation employment in the United States is more than 14.7 million, about 11 percent of the civilian workforce. STUDY APPROACH The committee began its study by reviewing several previous studies about the education of transportation engineering professionals (TRB 1985a; TRB 1985b; TRB 1998; Sussman 1995), civil engineering careers (Henderson Associates 2000; Meyer and Jacobs 2000; Mason et al. 1992), transit workforce issues (TRB 2001; Moffat et al. 2001; McGlothin Davis 2002), and the changing nature of state transportation organizations (AASHTO 1998; FHWA 2000; NAPA 1995; TRB 2000; Zuelsdorf 2000).6 In addition to reviewing recent research 6 The references noted represent only the key reports reviewed. Additional references are noted as appropriate in subsequent chapters.

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The Workforce Challenge: Recruiting, Training, and Retaining Qualified Workers for Transportation and Transit agencies conducted in the National Cooperative Highway Research Program and the Transit Cooperative Research Program, it held discussions with researchers involved in ongoing projects related to this study.7 The committee benefited from presentations and discussions at the 2002 National Workforce Summit, which took place in May 2002 and involved more than 75 transportation leaders and professionals (FHWA 2002). Two industry associations that represent key North American transportation and transit agencies, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials and the American Public Transportation Association, provided the committee with valuable information about their workforce studies and workforce development activities.8 At two of its meetings, the committee heard presentations from and had discussions with a range of transportation leaders, educators, private consultants, and labor management experts.9 Two recent reports of the National Academy of Engineering, one on public awareness of engineering and the other on improving technological literacy, provided information on the challenge of ensuring an adequate supply of high school graduates interested in pursuing careers in transportation (NAE 2002; Pearson and Young 2002). Both reports provide examples of grassroots activity aimed at improving science and mathematics education in grades K-12, where interest in and preparation for transportation careers—as well as many others— begin. One study, which is actually a precursor to this one, recognized changes under way in public-sector transportation agencies—large 7 Projects under way include TCRP Project F-11: Positioning the Public Transportation Operating Agency as an Employer of Choice; TCRP Synthesis Project SF-10: Corporate Culture as the Driver of Practices, Techniques, and Strategies for Hiring, Developing, Evaluating, and Retaining Transit Leadership; NCHRP Project 22-24(18): Outsourcing of State Department of Transportation Delivery of Capital Programs; and NCHRP Synthesis Project 33-08: Current Practice for Recruiting and Retaining Individuals in State Transportation Agencies. 8 While the study was supported primarily by agencies of the U.S. Department of Transportation, these organizations represent transportation agencies throughout North America, and the issues and solutions are not constrained by national boundaries. 9 The presenters are listed in the addendum to Chapter 1.

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The Workforce Challenge: Recruiting, Training, and Retaining Qualified Workers for Transportation and Transit agencies numbers of impending retirements, the introduction of new technologies, increasing amounts of contracting out of agency work, and a growing need for more training—that continue today (TRB 1985a). It also noted the importance of a highly qualified private-sector transportation workforce in support of the public-sector agencies. Taking a cue from that study, the committee recognized early the large variations in transportation agencies, including different missions, size, and organization. There are many federal, state, and local agencies with transportation responsibilities, and they have similar workforce components. In addition, the private-sector transportation industry—construction firms, contractors, suppliers, and consultants—compete with the public sector in many job categories. To narrow its focus the committee concentrated primarily on the workforces of SDOTs and TAs because it believes that these agencies are representative of most public agencies with transportation responsibilities. Even though the committee focused on SDOTs and TAs, other agencies and private-sector organizations with transportation responsibilities can benefit from this report if they choose to adopt the suggestions for specific action. They are also the principal agencies delivering key elements of the national transportation program. Transportation agencies are struggling with their human resource efforts at a basic level, and most lack the fundamental tools needed to determine their future agency workforce needs. Organizational workforce development must have a strategic foundation, be data-driven, and follow a systematic model aimed at achieving organizational goals (NAPA 2000). However, most SDOTs have yet to tie their staffing plans to a strategic plan, identify their core competency needs, or undertake a systematic analysis of the gaps between their workforce needs and staff competencies (New Mexico State Highway and Transportation Department 1999). In addition, despite recent and ongoing studies, there is a paucity of data available on agency skill needs, job categories, employee educational background, and employee job skills (New Mexico State Highway and Transportation Department 1999; Warne 2003;

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The Workforce Challenge: Recruiting, Training, and Retaining Qualified Workers for Transportation and Transit agencies McGlothin Davis 2002). The committee commissioned a study to examine the availability and usefulness of national data sources for examining transportation workforce issues (Gilliland 2002). The data were found to be too aggregated to provide accurate predictions for individual job categories in SDOTs and TAs. After considerable deliberation, the committee decided that the lack of essential data and information prevented it from making several key estimates, including the kinds of expertise transportation agencies need in the future, the likely numbers and capabilities of the future transportation workforce, and the future mix of personnel needs in transportation agencies. Clearly each agency must decide what competencies it needs on the basis of how it plans to accomplish its mission. Without established agency workforce development programs in place and agency-level data, it is premature to estimate aggregate skill needs and assess them, especially in light of the wide variations among agencies. The committee was also asked to examine whether civil engineering programs are changing to accommodate changes in transportation agency missions. SDOTs in particular have traditionally relied on state engineering schools to supply them with entry-level civil engineers. The task was to include assessment of the adequacy of the numbers of students enrolled in universities, colleges, and training institutes with regard to future agency needs. Curriculum change is a complex process involving many considerations. Several are key considerations for this study. First, engineering programs strive to update course materials to reflect both new technical knowledge and new workforce skill needs, such as technical writing, team building, and working with the public. Second, undergraduate engineering programs are under pressure to reduce their credit hour requirements for graduation and put more emphasis on basics even while they attempt to accommodate new knowledge and meet accreditation requirements. Finally, even though transportation agencies, especially SDOTs, will continue to need a core group of civil engineers to perform or manage the performance of key planning, design, construction, maintenance, and related tasks,

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The Workforce Challenge: Recruiting, Training, and Retaining Qualified Workers for Transportation and Transit agencies they increasingly need expertise in many other areas, such as environmental science, business administration, economics, information technology, and law. In light of the variations in transportation agencies, the changes under way in them, their broadening skill needs, and the intricacies of curriculum change in more than 200 civil engineering programs, the committee decided not to address curriculum change or the adequacy of current enrollments. Nevertheless, the committee examined several alternative pathways to careers in transportation agencies that have yet to be fully exploited by the agencies. It also reviewed opportunities for agency partnering with the academic community within and outside their jurisdictions to help educate and train the transportation workforce. Thus, after considerable discussion and deliberation and subsequent conversations with the study’s sponsors, the committee decided to concentrate on what agencies should do to enable their human resources to meet agency strategic workforce needs. The committee concentrated on the process of accommodating change within transportation agencies instead of trying to solve their individual workforce needs or predict how the internal and external environments of the agencies will change. The committee prepared recommendations that focus on agency recruiting, training, retention, and succession planning and reflect what it believes government, transportation agencies, educators and trainers, and agency personnel can and should do. ORGANIZATION OF THE REPORT In Chapter 2, information on the characteristics of SDOTs, TAs, and their workforces is presented, the primary issues that affect them are reviewed, and changing agency workforce needs are described. The traditional sources of key transportation and transit agency personnel and the education and training system that supports them are reviewed in Chapter 3. The importance of strategic human resource management is described in Chapter 4, and suggestions for address-

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The Workforce Challenge: Recruiting, Training, and Retaining Qualified Workers for Transportation and Transit agencies ing people and skill needs through agency recruiting, training, retention, and succession planning are provided. Information on specific transportation workforce data and analysis needs is provided in Chapter 5. The committee’s findings and recommendations are given in Chapter 6. REFERENCES Abbreviations AASHTO American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials FHWA Federal Highway Administration NAE National Academy of Engineering NAPA National Academy of Public Administration TRB Transportation Research Board AASHTO. 1998. The Changing State DOT. Washington, D.C. Black, A. 1991. Privatization of Urban Transit: A Different Perspective. In Transportation Research Record 1297, TRB, National Research Council, Washington, D.C., pp. 69–75. FHWA. 2000. Positioning FHWA for the Future. Report of Task Force on Workforce Planning and Professional Development. U.S. Department of Transportation, Washington, D.C., Dec. FHWA. 2002. National Transportation Workforce Summit: Summary of Proceedings. U.S. Department of Transportation, Washington, D.C., May. FHWA (various years). Highway Statistics. U.S. Department of Transportation, Washington, D.C. Gilliland, C. W. 2002. Transportation Workforce: Existing Indicators and Needed Data. Prepared for Committee on Future Surface Transportation Agency Human Resource Needs, TRB, National Research Council, Washington, D.C. Henderson Associates. 2000. Minnesota Summit on Civil Engineering Workforce Development. Final Report 2000-23. Nov. Jones, D. W. 1985. Urban Transit Policy: An Economic and Political History. Prentice-Hall, Inc., Englewood Cliffs, N.J. Mason, J. M., Jr., J. R. Tarris, E. Zaki, and M. S. Bronzini. 1992. NCHRP Report 347: Civil Engineering Careers: Awareness, Retention, and Curriculum. TRB, National Research Council, Washington, D.C.

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The Workforce Challenge: Recruiting, Training, and Retaining Qualified Workers for Transportation and Transit agencies McGlothin Davis, Inc. 2002. TCRP Report 77: Managing Transit’s Workforce in the New Millennium. TRB, National Research Council, Washington, D.C. Meyer, M., and L. J. Jacobs. 2000. A Civil Engineering Curriculum for the Future: The Georgia Tech Case. Journal of Professional Issues in Engineering Education and Practice, American Society of Civil Engineers, April, pp. 74–78. Moffat, G. K., A. H. Ashton, and D. R. Blackburn. 2001. TCRP Synthesis 40: A Challenged Employment System: Hiring, Training, Performance Evaluation, and Retention of Bus Operators. TRB, National Research Council, Washington, D.C. NAE. 2002. Raising Public Awareness of Engineering. National Research Council, Washington, D.C. NAPA. 1995. NCHRP Report 371: State Departments of Transportation: Strategies for Change. TRB, National Research Council, Washington, D.C. NAPA. 2000. Building Successful Organizations: A Guide to Strategic Workforce Planning. Washington, D.C. New Mexico State Highway and Transportation Department. 1999. Staffing Plan Survey of State Transportation Agencies. Research Report NM99, ADM-01. Sept. Pearson, G., and A. T. Young (eds.). 2002. Technically Speaking: Why All Americans Need to Know More About Technology. National Academy of Engineering, Washington, D.C. Sussman, J. M. 1995. Educating the New Transportation Professional. ITS Quarterly, Summer. TRB. 1985a. Special Report 207: Transportation Professionals: Future Needs and Opportunities. National Research Council, Washington, D.C. TRB. 1985b. Special Report 210: Transportation Education and Training: Meeting the Challenge: Proceedings of the Conference on Surface Transportation Education and Training. National Research Council, Washington, D.C. TRB. 1998. Conference Proceedings 17: Intermodal Transportation Education and Training. National Research Council, Washington, D.C. TRB. 2000. Transportation Research Circular 501: Strategic Management Research Needs for State Departments of Transportation. National Research Council, Washington, D.C. TRB. 2001. TCRP Research Results Digest 45: Identification of the Critical Workforce Development Issues in the Transit Industry. National Research Council, Washington, D.C., Dec. Warne, T. 2003. NCHRP Synthesis of Highway Practice: Current Practice for Recruiting and Retaining Individuals in State Transportation Agencies. TRB, National Research Council, Washington, D.C. (in progress). Zuelsdorf, R. 2000. Presentation at the Western Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials meeting. June 13.

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The Workforce Challenge: Recruiting, Training, and Retaining Qualified Workers for Transportation and Transit agencies Addendum: PRESENTATIONS TO THE COMMITTEE DECEMBER 17–18, 2001 Future Changes Affecting Transportation Agencies John Mahaffie, Coates & Jarratt Agency Changes Affecting the Workforce Stephen Lockwood, Parsons Brinckerhoff, Inc. State DOT Experience John Horsley, American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials Minnesota Summit on Civil Engineering Workforce Development Cheri Marti, Minnesota Department of Transportation Transit Agency Workforce Development Issues Pam Boswell, American Public Transportation Association Brian Vogel, Quatt Associates Private-Sector Workforce Development Terry Neimeyer, KCI Technologies, Inc. Workforce Development Experience in the Construction Industry James Krug, FMI Recruiters Universities and Curriculum Change Gerald E. Galloway, Secretary, U.S. Section, International Joint Commission and Member, American Society of Civil Engineers Task Force on Academic Prerequisites for Professional Practice APRIL 11–12, 2002 State DOT Experience with Meeting Human Resources Needs David Gehr, Vice President, Parsons Brinckerhoff, Inc., and former Commissioner, Virginia Department of Transportation Changing Education and Training Needs for Intelligent Transportation Systems John Collura, Professor of Civil Engineering, Virginia Tech and Chairman of the ITS-America Education and Training Committee

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The Workforce Challenge: Recruiting, Training, and Retaining Qualified Workers for Transportation and Transit agencies Labor/Union Considerations Robert Tobias, Professor, Department of Public Policy, American University and former President of the National Treasury Employees Union Transportation Construction Industry Issues Brad Sant, Vice President of Safety and Education, American Road and Transportation Builders Association