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The Workforce Challenge: Recruiting, Training, and Retaining Qualified Workers for Transportation and Transit agencies APPENDIX B Recent Professional Capacity–Building Efforts INTELLIGENT TRANSPORTATION SYSTEMS The history of the intelligent transportation systems (ITS) professional capacity–building program developed by the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) Joint Program Office ( JPO) illustrates how a well-funded response to key changing needs of state departments of transportation can bring focus to the education and training needs created by new technologies and their implementation.1 The need to build professional capacity for ITS deployment was documented in several studies undertaken by ITS America, USDOT, and the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) (Humphrey 1997a). In 1996 USDOT, recognizing the need to improve the skills and competencies of transportation professionals to enable the deployment of ITS technologies, prepared a 5-year Strategic Plan for ITS Professional Capacity Building (ITS PCB) (Humphrey 1997b). Additional studies launched in 1997 established a baseline for ITS education and training needs. Annual funding for the program was $3.5 million. Implementation of the plan involved three key stakeholder groups: the public sector—federal, state, and local transportation agencies; the private sector—consultants and contractors working with ITS America, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), and ITE; and the academic community, 1 ITS technologies represent the convergence of communication, computing, sensing, and control technologies aimed at achieving operational improvements through freeway and incident management, traveler information, road weather information, and other user services.
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The Workforce Challenge: Recruiting, Training, and Retaining Qualified Workers for Transportation and Transit agencies primarily through the Council of University Transportation Centers. The purpose of the plan was to overcome the limited technical expertise available in the transportation industry to plan, design, and deploy ITS projects (USDOT 1997a). Process to Design and Deliver the Program USDOT, through JPO, initiated a program of seminars and short courses to prepare participants for deploying ITS.2 The seminars and courses were delivered to Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) field and headquarters professionals, state and local transportation agencies, and private-sector consultants and contractors. The program was designed to deliver assistance in four related areas: training, education, technical assistance, and information dissemination. The ITS PCB Program emphasized the use of ITS technologies to more effectively operate and manage surface transportation systems. It encouraged professionals to think and act differently and to consider changes in their way of doing business. By December 2001 the ITS PCB Program had delivered 21 courses to about 15,000 people throughout the country. In addition, approximately 12,000 people have participated in an ITS/Commercial Vehicle Operations Awareness Briefing in conjunction with a traveling truck display. Many other presentations based on the course materials have been delivered for which participation was not recorded. For example, field personnel of FHWA and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) have presented and continue to present courses to state and local partners. Both ITS America and ITE have developed and are delivering professional courses to their members. Universities throughout the country are developing and presenting new undergraduate- and graduate-level programs to their students. Groups of states have also developed core programs to tailor training for state and local participants. 2 A national ITS PCB steering committee was formed to provide guidance, credibility, and peer review of the program. The committee comprised senior-level leaders from the public, private, and academic sectors. Initially formed by ITS America as an official advisory committee to USDOT, the committee was restructured as the ITS America Standing Committee on Education and Training.
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The Workforce Challenge: Recruiting, Training, and Retaining Qualified Workers for Transportation and Transit agencies The ITS PCB Program initially focused on the need to quickly train as many people as possible in the application of technologies to assist in operating and managing surface transportation systems more efficiently and safely. As those first initiatives were being implemented, some gaps were identified. To obtain a better understanding of the fundamental knowledge, skills, and competencies required by professionals and technical personnel to apply ITS technologies, JPO staff interviewed nearly 200 professionals already involved in planning, designing, deploying, operating, and maintaining advanced technology–based programs (USDOT 1997b). This provided essential information about fundamental competency requirements. Analysis of the interview results helped identify the following 10 key competencies needed for successful ITS deployment: Systems integration—linking systems through information technologies, Organizational/institutional changes—creating and managing change, Technology options—analysis and training on technical devices and equipment, Systems analysis and design application—using concepts of systems engineering, Managing contractors—designers and systems integrators, Financing—identifying sources of funding for deployment, Communications—writing specifications that clearly define functional requirements, ITS planning and regional concepts of operations—integrated systems’ operations, Building coalitions with new stakeholders, and Data analysis and management—developing and using critical information.
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The Workforce Challenge: Recruiting, Training, and Retaining Qualified Workers for Transportation and Transit agencies The interviews also provided important information on staff competencies for a wide range of typical ITS projects that led to the following general principles about attracting, recruiting, training, and retaining skilled professionals (USDOT 1999): Attracting bright young people to transportation and educating the transportation professionals of the future should begin well in advance of the college years. Education and training must be tailored, targeted, and accessible. Education must be a continuous, lifelong endeavor. Education programs must be viewed in a comprehensive and holistic way and include the contributions of community and junior colleges, technical schools, undergraduate and graduate programs, continuing education programs, and new delivery media. In light of the rapid advances in transportation technology, programs must be established for transportation faculty to assist them in keeping up to date. The ability of colleges and universities to adapt to rapidly changing needs in undergraduate transportation programs is a serious challenge for the academic community. New delivery media—including distance learning programs—are being used and are in great demand by students seeking continuing education opportunities or degrees. These media must be part of future education and training initiatives. The technical, institutional, and cultural changes under way require the entire transportation profession to change the old ways of doing business. One of the ultimate objectives of the ITS PCB program was to mainstream ITS-related education and training. As a consequence, most ITS PCB courses have now been integrated into the programs carried out by the National Highway Institute (NHI) in FHWA and the National Transit Institute (NTI) at Rutgers University. In addition, both ITS America and ITE have developed and delivered
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The Workforce Challenge: Recruiting, Training, and Retaining Qualified Workers for Transportation and Transit agencies courses for their members in coordination with the ITS PCB Program. Finally, many universities have incorporated material from the PCB course into their courses.3 The interviews with ITS practitioners also revealed that while they are eager for more training and education, they are hindered by a lack of time, travel flexibility, and funds. Distance learning—any form of training that is delivered without an instructor being physically present with the learning audience—offers opportunities for providing training and education while removing the barriers mentioned. Distance learning can be achieved with live, interactive teletraining; CD-ROM programs; the Internet; and linear products such as texts and videotapes. JPO concluded that Web-based training (WBT) offers some significant opportunities to reach a wide audience with the training they need, when and where they need it. Consequently, three WBT pilots were launched and evaluated. On the basis of the success of those pilots JPO established a partnership with the Consortium for ITS Training and Education, which offers a wide variety of Web-based ITS training. Information can be obtained from www.citeconsortium.org. Establish an ITS Training Curriculum There is a continuing need for ITS training for several reasons, primarily because new agency staff members need to be trained and program requirements are changing. The need for continuous training programs has been addressed by JPO with the development of guidelines for a core training curriculum. The ITS curriculum guide is now available on the ITS PCB website. It provides guidance for individuals on awareness training, core training, and advanced training. The core courses address the following topics: Deployment of ITS in metropolitan areas and deployment of ITS rural toolbox, 3 The ITS PCB Web page provides one-stop shopping for training, education, technical assistance, and information dissemination. There are links for universities, associations, and many other sources of information, as well as contact persons to schedule courses and view course schedules.
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The Workforce Challenge: Recruiting, Training, and Retaining Qualified Workers for Transportation and Transit agencies Introduction to systems engineering for transportation, Telecommunications overview, Use of the national architecture or the commercial vehicle infor mation systems and networks architecture for deployment, ITS standards, ITS procurement, ITS software acquisition, Project management for advanced transportation systems, ITS public–private partnerships, and Management of incidents and roadway emergencies. Two course catalogs have been prepared and are available at the following websites: www.vtti.vt.edu for university courses and www. itsa.org for private-sector courses. In addition, NHI course descriptions are available at www.nhi.fhwa.dot.gov, NTI course descriptions are available at www.ntionline.com, and course descriptions related to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration are available at www.fmcsa.dot.gov. OTHER RECENT TRANSPORTATION EDUCATION AND TRAINING INITIATIVES Two recent education and training initiatives have been launched by FHWA: the Metropolitan Capacity Building (MCB) Program and the Professional Excellence for Highway Safety Program. The MCB Program was launched in 2001 to help state and local transportation agency staffs meet the complex political, social, economic, and environmental demands of metropolitan areas. The program is designed for members of policy boards or executive committees, community leaders and professionals in metropolitan areas who participate in the metropolitan transportation planning process, and metropolitan planning organization (MPO) staff. The program’s aims are the following:
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The Workforce Challenge: Recruiting, Training, and Retaining Qualified Workers for Transportation and Transit agencies Gather and disseminate examples of effective metropolitan transportation planning practices from across the nation. Act as a clearinghouse for information and contacts within the metropolitan transportation planning community. Provide background information for MPO board members to enhance their understanding of the metropolitan transportation planning process, their role within the process, and its relationship to community and societal goals. Provide information, training, and technical assistance to MPOs (including new MPOs and those designated as nonattainment for air quality). The program incorporates information dissemination, technical assistance, training, education, outreach, and customer feedback. It is a collaborative effort of FTA, FHWA, AASHTO, the American Public Transportation Association, and the Association of Metropolitan Planning Organizations. FHWA’s Safety Core Business Unit launched the Professional Excellence for Highway Safety Program to provide continuing education for safety professionals based on an assessment of their needs. The ultimate aim is to reduce highway-related crashes, injuries, and fatalities. The program will coordinate interagency partnerships within USDOT to integrate the needs of all safety program stakeholders, providers, and customers and raise safety awareness of legislators, the media, and other education providers, with emphasis on intersection safety, speeding, run-off-the-road crashes, and pedestrian and bicyclist safety. The program will encompass infrastructure enhancements, operations enhancements, equipment, and onboard vehicle technologies. FHWA has begun an inventory of information on safety training courses, software, databases, and curriculum available for highway safety training to assist safety practitioners. It is also establishing a stakeholders’ database including information on customer category, region, professional level, organization, and so forth. It is planning a 1-day national conference for safety engineers, operators, planners, industry leaders, elected officials, educators, and researchers.
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The Workforce Challenge: Recruiting, Training, and Retaining Qualified Workers for Transportation and Transit agencies REFERENCES Abbreviation USDOT U.S. Department of Transportation Humphrey, T. F. 1997a. ITS Professional Capacity Building Program. Public Roads, Sept.–Oct., pp. 36–38. Humphrey, T. F. 1997b. ITS Deployment: The Critical Need for a Trained Work Force. ITS Quarterly, Winter, pp. 45–54. USDOT. 1997a. ITS Training and Education Needs Assessment Baseline: A Review and Synthesis of Thirteen Prior Studies, Field Interviews, and a Summary Assessment of ITS Needs. Dec. USDOT. 1997b. Planning and Deploying ITS: Six White Papers Describing Current and Planned Programs of Five Transportation Associations and Four University Research Centers of Excellence. Dec. USDOT. 1999. Building Professional Capacity in ITS: Documentation and Analysis of Training and Education Needs in Support of ITS Deployment. April. ADDITIONAL RESOURCES Committee on Science of the National Science and Technology Council’s Interagency Working Group. 2000. Ensuring a Strong U.S. Scientific, Technical, and Engineering Workforce in the 21st Century. March. Humphrey, T. F. 2000. Searching for Core Competencies: Continuous Learning Is Key to ITS Deployment. ITS Quarterly, Winter, pp. 49–58. Rand Corporation. 2000. Strategic and Performance Planning for the Office of the Chancellor for Education and Professional Development in the Department of Defense. USDOT. 1997. Framework and Overview for Establishing a Professional Capacity Building Program for Transportation Management and Traveler Information Services in Support of ITS Deployment. Sept. 30.
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