3
Traditional and Emerging Sources for Transportation and Transit Agency Personnel and Training

Chapter Highlights

  • The focus of state departments of transportation (SDOTs) on civil infrastructure components makes them predominantly civil engineering–oriented organizations.

  • The expanding mission of SDOTs requires them to have staff expertise in a wide variety of backgrounds, including such areas as planning, environmental science, and intelligent transportation systems.

  • Alternative pathways to employment in SDOTs and transit agencies (TAs) are increasing in number for both professional and support positions, but little information about how these pathways can be exploited by the agencies is available.

  • Engineering enrollments and graduations have been declining in recent years, reducing the pool of civil engineers from which agencies recruit.



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The Workforce Challenge: Recruiting, Training, and Retaining Qualified Workers for Transportation and Transit agencies 3 Traditional and Emerging Sources for Transportation and Transit Agency Personnel and Training Chapter Highlights The focus of state departments of transportation (SDOTs) on civil infrastructure components makes them predominantly civil engineering–oriented organizations. The expanding mission of SDOTs requires them to have staff expertise in a wide variety of backgrounds, including such areas as planning, environmental science, and intelligent transportation systems. Alternative pathways to employment in SDOTs and transit agencies (TAs) are increasing in number for both professional and support positions, but little information about how these pathways can be exploited by the agencies is available. Engineering enrollments and graduations have been declining in recent years, reducing the pool of civil engineers from which agencies recruit.

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The Workforce Challenge: Recruiting, Training, and Retaining Qualified Workers for Transportation and Transit agencies The service delivery focus of TAs requires a workforce comprising predominantly equipment operators and agency maintenance staff. There is an extensive array of education and training opportunities for transportation agency staff, as well as for people interested in transportation careers. However, these opportunities are highly fragmented and uncoordinated, as is information about them. Universities, community colleges, independent training institutes, professional and trade associations, and public agencies offer a broad range of education and training opportunities that encompass degree, certificate, and continuing education programs, and short courses providing the knowledge and skills needed by transportation agencies. Two federal agencies closely associated with transportation programs offer training opportunities: the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), through the National Highway Institute (NHI), and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), through the National Transit Institute (NTI). A third federal agency, the Research and Special Programs Administration (RSPA) in the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), manages the University Transportation Centers (UTC) program, initiated under the Surface Transportation and Uniform Relocation Assistance Act of 1987 and continued in subsequent surface transportation reauthorizations. Education and training programs at universities, community colleges, and technical schools are affected by institutional issues as they attempt to meet the needs of the education marketplace.1 These issues include academic policies, accreditation and licensing requirements, competition for students, economic considerations, and staffing. 1 The committee adopted the following distinction between education and training: education prepares an individual through a structured program of study for a lifelong contribution to society; training is delivery of a specific skill or understanding of an issue.

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The Workforce Challenge: Recruiting, Training, and Retaining Qualified Workers for Transportation and Transit agencies Traditional and emerging sources of education and training all address the needs of employers and employees for continuous learning in response to the growing demands of the marketplace and the workplace. In the following sections information is provided on sources of professional, technical, and industry education and training for state departments of transportation (SDOTs) and transit agencies (TAs). UNIVERSITIES AND COLLEGES The primary credential for many key transportation agency positions is still a degree in civil engineering. Civil engineering graduates have long been the backbone of SDOT workforces, largely because civil engineering education prepares students to perform the bulk of work done by these agencies—planning, design, construction, operation, and maintenance of transportation facilities. As the range of activities within the purview of SDOTs has broadened (as discussed in Chapter 2), the agencies need more planning, environmental, financial, and legal specialists. The primary credential for these positions is a bachelor’s degree in planning, environmental science, business, prelaw, or related topics. Regardless of the need for a variety of professions, civil engineering remains the dominant focus. In recent years, the number of civil engineers graduating from accredited engineering programs has been decreasing (see Figure 3-1).2 Despite this cyclic pattern, the supply of civil engineering graduates appears sufficient to meet demand. Notwithstanding the importance of civil engineers to the operation of transportation agencies, engineering consulting and construction firms employ many more civil engineers. This is evidenced by the fact that in mid-2002, offers to civil engineering graduates were 40 percent 2 According to Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, there are about 215 accredited civil engineering programs in the United States. These 4-year college and university programs graduate approximately 8,400 civil engineers each year. There are also 118 other accredited engineering programs whose graduates can support transportation agency work. These include general engineering, construction engineering, geological engineering, materials engineering, transportation engineering, and urban systems engineering programs.

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The Workforce Challenge: Recruiting, Training, and Retaining Qualified Workers for Transportation and Transit agencies from consulting firms, 50 percent from construction firms, and only 10 percent from government and nonprofit organizations.3 While the data are limited, they do reflect the employment potential. They also suggest that even if changes in civil engineering curricula would benefit SDOTs in light of their changing work requirements, the influence of the agencies on curriculum decisions is small compared with that of other potential employers.4 Many SDOTs have strong ties and established relationships with state universities that help attract engineering students to agency FIGURE 3-1 Bachelor’s degrees awarded in selected engineering disciplines. (Source: engtrends.com.) 3 Based on data from the National Association of Colleges and Employers. 4 According to the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), members from the private sector have been highly influential in the passage of Policy 465 of the ASCE Board of Directors. Adopted in October 2001, the policy “supports the concept of the Master’s degree or Equivalent as a prerequisite for licensure and the practice of civil engineering at a professional level.” The policy is intended to better prepare civil engineering graduates to practice in the profession; it could also affect the supply of civil engineering graduates.

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The Workforce Challenge: Recruiting, Training, and Retaining Qualified Workers for Transportation and Transit agencies work. Such ties have several origins, including state government support of public universities, participation in cooperative engineering programs, agency funding of internships and fellowships, agency research funding that focuses the work of graduate students (and their professors) on SDOT topics, and agency employees who are state university graduates or supporters of student and departmental activities.5 The changes taking place in SDOTs and other transportation agencies—requiring other engineering and technical specialties to address intelligent transportation system (ITS) implementation, environmental regulations, and metropolitan transportation planning, as well as the growing demand for procurement and contract management specialists—have been recognized by the academic community. Sussman (1995, 4) notes the need to educate a “new transportation professional” with breadth in three fundamental areas—technology, systems, and institutions—and an in-depth specialization in a subset of transportation. He also addresses the associated need for a faculty capable of approaching transportation education in terms of “big infrastructure investments, a network structure for delivery of services, an (relatively recent) application of real-time control, a global scale, and a changing institutional structure, particularly between public and private sectors” (Sussman 1999, 23). In response to the changing needs of urban transportation agencies the University of South Florida—one of USDOT’s university transportation centers—has instituted a Graduate Interdisciplinary Transportation Program. It brings together graduate students in economics, civil engineering, and public administration for a six-course certificate program; the coursework is also available to students working toward master’s degrees. The program, which is described in more detail in Box 3-1, was developed with a view toward the changing knowledge and skill requirements of the transportation workforce for both public- and private-sector employers. The UTC program, a key component of federal support for university transportation education and research, is described later. 5 The scholarship program sponsored by the Kentucky Department of Transportation is an example of how an SDOT connects to engineering programs in state universities. The program is described in Chapter 4.

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The Workforce Challenge: Recruiting, Training, and Retaining Qualified Workers for Transportation and Transit agencies BOX 3-1 The Graduate Interdisciplinary Transportation Program at the University of South Florida The Graduate Interdisciplinary Transportation Program in the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of South Florida (USF) was inaugurated in 1995. Graduate students in economics, civil engineering, and public administration enroll in a common set of core courses that emphasize urban transportation issues. Students in the program have opportunities to participate on research project teams with senior transportation faculty at the USF Center for Urban Transportation Research. The program is being offered as a six-course certificate program in addition to being available to students working toward a graduate degree. The certificate program was developed for early- and mid-career transportation professionals in response to a need expressed by the profession for increased training in interdisciplinary approaches to transportation issues. In addition to its interdisciplinary nature, the program draws from a much wider pool than the traditional set of engineering and planning students in transportation programs. The program’s full-time students are currently 20 percent women and 70 percent Black and Hispanic minorities, whereas the undergraduate civil engineering enrollment has 21 percent women and 10 percent Black and Hispanic minorities. The overall undergraduate population at USF is approximately 60 percent female and 24 percent Black and Hispanic minorities. Thus the program has attracted considerable minority participation and over time is expected to increase female participation as well.

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The Workforce Challenge: Recruiting, Training, and Retaining Qualified Workers for Transportation and Transit agencies COMMUNITY COLLEGES As their name implies, community colleges—a unique American institution with a 100-year history of service—are community-based institutions of higher learning. There are more than 1,170 community colleges in the nation, with about 1,000 being public institutions.6 The majority share the characteristics of open access and equity, comprehensive program offerings aimed at job preparation, a community-based philosophy, a commitment to teaching, and a commitment to continuous learning. Unlike 4-year colleges and universities, where attainment of a bachelor’s degree is the implicit goal of students, community colleges serve students who share a goal of self-improvement but not necessarily a degree. Community colleges offer a variety of credit and noncredit courses aimed at occupations in high demand within the community.7 They are characterized by high levels of enrollment, low graduation rates, and large numbers of older (mature) students, suggesting that they are functioning as retraining rather than as primary training institutions. Minorities and immigrants are overrepresented in 2-year schools. First-generation postsecondary students and students from low socioeconomic backgrounds are more likely to enroll in community colleges than in 4-year schools (NCES 2000). For students who are already in related technical fields, switching careers, or adding technical skills to their current nontechnical skills, community colleges are a convenient, economical, and popular option. Community colleges offer an opportunity to tap a worker pool of recent high school graduates, experienced workers seeking a midlife career change, and college graduates with nontechnical degrees seeking alternative employment in more technical fields. Evidence that community college programs have proven successful in providing workers for information technology jobs suggests that programs can 6 Community colleges include vocational, technical, and adult education institutions, some of which offer credit courses transferable to a university. 7 Students enrolled in community colleges do not necessarily have a high school diploma (Lerman et al. 2000).

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The Workforce Challenge: Recruiting, Training, and Retaining Qualified Workers for Transportation and Transit agencies be developed for other job types and diffused across the country (Lerman et al. 2000). This capability is leveraged by a key community college advantage—flexibility in curriculum. Two-year colleges can react to industry demands quickly and are not burdened by the bureaucratic structure and accreditation issues of 4-year colleges and universities.8 On the other hand, as noted above, an accredited engineering or other degree is often a requirement for some transportation agency positions. Finally, it should be noted that, given their financial constraints and union contracts, community colleges can find it difficult to attract and retain the qualified faculty they need.9 Community colleges are partnering with TAs to address some transportation agency needs for specialized skills. The Houston Community College System’s Northeast College has partnered with the Houston Metropolitan Transit Authority (METRO) for nearly 20 years to provide heavy motor vehicle maintenance/diesel mechanic training for METRO’s maintenance apprenticeship program. That program consists of 5 years of training based on a combination of community college classes and on-the-job training at METRO. Candidates are selected by METRO, and community college instructors teach the classes. The program provides 100 percent job placement for those who complete the training. There are currently 75 students in the program. Community colleges are addressing the need for engineering graduates in other ways, including partnering with universities to provide alternative entry into baccalaureate engineering degree programs. For example, the University of Dayton (UD) has two dual-admission 8 Community colleges serve local needs and can be highly aggressive in seeking new enrollments, revenues, and activities. They often provide customized training for local employers. Such arrangements can have a high profile and political significance disproportionate to the institution’s size, but such training helps solidify partnerships with influential local businesses (Bailey 2002). On the other hand, the independence of community colleges can affect the provision of coordinated market-responsive programs. For example, there are 106 community colleges in California in 70 separate districts, each with its own board of trustees. As a result, the state has little power to operate the colleges as a coordinated system. 9 According to the National Center for Educational Statistics’ National Study of Postsecondary Faculty, approximately 47 percent of community college faculty members are eligible for union membership and 32 percent are union members.

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The Workforce Challenge: Recruiting, Training, and Retaining Qualified Workers for Transportation and Transit agencies programs with Sinclair Community College (SCC) in Dayton. In such programs, students who complete an associate’s degree in one of the qualifying programs at SCC and meet the grade point average requirement can transfer to UD with junior status and receive a one-third annual tuition discount from UD while they pursue their baccalaureate degree. In the joint Adult Degree Advancement Program, students over 24 years of age also receive a tuition discount. Community colleges are well positioned to address emerging and continuing community needs for specialized training programs; they can react quickly to changing needs. However, their ability to initiate and sustain programs in areas of high demand depends on hiring and retaining qualified instructors, who are often in high demand elsewhere. TARGETED EDUCATION AND TRAINING PROGRAMS Key Federal Agency Programs National Highway Institute FHWA’s NHI provides training and education for surface transportation agencies through the development and delivery of training courses, administration of fellowships and internships, and several affiliate programs. Current funding for NHI is $8 million annually. Specific NHI program activity is summarized in Table 3-1. In addition, NHI currently supports an initiative of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) aimed at identifying and publicizing innovative practices in SDOT workforce management practices. This effort is described in Chapter 4. National Transit Institute NTI, located at Rutgers University, was established under the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 to develop, promote, and deliver education and training programs for the public transit industry in subject areas of critical importance in which training does not exist or is limited. The institute’s initial four program

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The Workforce Challenge: Recruiting, Training, and Retaining Qualified Workers for Transportation and Transit agencies TABLE 3-1 Description of Key NHI Activities Activity Description Training courses More than 550 courses involving more than 15,000 participants—nearly 70 percent from SDOTs—were delivered in FY 2002. Course materials can be made available to states for their own use and modification. NHI has begun to adopt distance-learning mechan isms (Web- and computer-based training). NHI coordinates across modes and institutions to make the best use of resources. Fellowships and scholarships About 100 student and faculty fellowships and grants are administered for the Dwight David Eisenhower Transportation Fellowship Program. Special fellowships and grants are available for historically African American and Hispanic-speaking institutions, and tribal colleges. Affiliates programs The affiliates programs office supports the Local Technical Assistance Program, the international program, and a partnerships program. areas were advanced technologies and innovative practices, compliance with federal regulations, management and professional development, and multimodal transportation planning. In 1998, the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) provided additional funding and added workplace safety as a program area. Current funding for NTI is $4 million annually. In addition to traditional course offerings, NTI provides monthly audio teleconferences, an annual transit trainer’s workshop, and presentations by invited speakers. Local Technical Assistance Program The Local Technical Assistance Program (LTAP) provides technical assistance funds to the states to assist them and local governments through 58 LTAP centers10 that provide training and technical assistance primarily to local transportation agencies, as well as to SDOTs, metropolitan planning organizations, private industry, and other transportation providers. Most of the centers are housed at state universities and technical colleges and are geared specifically toward disseminating research results and new technologies to rural highway agencies and municipalities with populations under 2 million. The location of the 10 There are LTAP centers in each state, seven serving Native American tribal governments, and one in Puerto Rico.

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The Workforce Challenge: Recruiting, Training, and Retaining Qualified Workers for Transportation and Transit agencies centers at universities also provides educational and training opportunities for students interested in highway-related careers, and training and technical assistance for highway professionals at the state and local levels. The LTAP centers are funded by FHWA, SDOTs, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, universities, local transportation agencies, and other state funds. In 2002, up to $140,000 in LTAP funds was available to each state on a 1:1 matching basis; in some cases the match was much greater. During that year, LTAP centers provided more than 5,000 training sessions to more than 135,000 participants. Current funding enables the LTAP program to reach about one-third of the local government transportation workforce. UTC Program The centerpiece of federal support for university transportation programs is the UTC program, which is administered by RSPA. TEA-21 authorized up to $158.8 million for grants to as many as 33 UTCs throughout the United States from FY 1998 to FY 2003. Ten of these centers, designated as regional centers, were selected competitively in 1999. The other 23 UTCs are located at universities specified in TEA-21. Funding for the UTCs is matched on a 1:1 basis, often by an SDOT, but also by other sources. The UTC program supports graduate student education and research in transportation; such assistance provides a platform for the development of future transportation professionals, researchers, and educators. TEA-21 established education as one of the primary objectives of a UTC, institutionalized the use of strategic planning in university grant management, and reinforced the program’s focus on multimodal transportation. (See Appendix C for more detail on the universities in the UTC program.) Congressional designations for the UTC program in FY 2001 amount to 93 percent of the potential grants. During FY 2002, 17 existing centers will enter a competition for funding for the final 2 years of authorization. State Agency Programs As noted in Chapter 2, SDOTs operate in a climate of change stemming from technical, demographic, institutional, political, cultural,

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The Workforce Challenge: Recruiting, Training, and Retaining Qualified Workers for Transportation and Transit agencies FIGURE 3-2 Traditional and alternative education and career pathways for many SDOT and TA professional staff.

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The Workforce Challenge: Recruiting, Training, and Retaining Qualified Workers for Transportation and Transit agencies BOX 3-6 Illustrative Examples of Transportation Agency Training Needs Stemming from Technological Innovation, Changing Regulatory Requirements, and Office Application Software Upgrades The lessons of the Strategic Highway Research Program (SHRP), a 5-year, $150 million state pooled-fund research program, provide examples of how innovative technologies affect agency and contractor training needs. A key SHRP research product was a new system for designing and producing asphalt pavement called Superpave®, which involves asphalt binder and mixture specifications much different from those used in the past, as well as new testing requirements and equipment. As a result, before Superpave could be implemented and its benefits realized, many transportation workers, including pavement design engineers, asphalt plant operators, asphalt plant technicians, and agency inspectors, had to be trained. This led to the creation of five regional university-based Superpave centers, each with test equipment on loan from FHWA, to provide training for agencies as well as asphalt user–producer groups, materials suppliers, contractors, and consultants. SHRP research also yielded several new tests for assessing the condition of concrete bridge components. The tests include the steel corrosion rate test, the ground-penetrating radar inspection system, the bridge deck integrity test, and a test for measuring the effectiveness of penetrating sealer. The value of these tests is that they can help increase the service lives of concrete pavement and structures. The challenge lies in properly carrying out the test procedures and being able to interpret the results.

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The Workforce Challenge: Recruiting, Training, and Retaining Qualified Workers for Transportation and Transit agencies This challenge can only be met through effective technician training. Transportation agencies also need training to maintain existing skills. For example, many agencies acquire right-of-way for construction as well as rehabilitation projects, and this requires specific skills for appraisal and negotiation activities. In the environmental area, changes in statutory regulations create an ongoing need for new agency skills. Agency staff need statutory knowledge and negotiation skills in the processes leading to wetland permitting and historical preservation determinations. Safety provides several examples where training is important to agencies. Work zone safety addresses safety considerations for both agency workers and system users and must address the need to maintain construction and system user traffic in many cases. Work zone safety encompasses traffic management and control; design, installation, and maintenance of traffic control devices; legal considerations; and worker control. Workplace safety, especially in road and equipment maintenance areas, also requires attention to manager and worker training. The importance of work zone and workplace safety coupled with the individuality of each work zone situation and the changing nature of the work zone as the job is under way mean that a range of skills are needed to address the topic. These skills can be developed through training. Roadway design is highly dependent on computer packages and the ability of engineers to provide accurate data and interpret the results. These programs require considerable attention to detail and are upgraded occasionally. Agency staff must be able to adopt and adapt the programs effectively, especially because of the safety considerations involved, to avoid crash-related tort liability problems. In

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The Workforce Challenge: Recruiting, Training, and Retaining Qualified Workers for Transportation and Transit agencies many cases training is needed to convey the needed knowledge and skills. In transit vehicles, as in automobiles, onboard vehicle electronic systems have become virtually ubiquitous in major subsystems and accessories. Fare boxes, destination signs, engines, and transmissions were among the first bus systems with electronic controls. Doors, multiplexed wiring systems, antilock brakes, air conditioning, automatic vehicle location, and other equipment now have electronic controls. Today’s transit vehicles also feature the transmission of data generated by the components to remote locations for analysis and the support of ITS applications like traffic signal priority and remote traveler information. The implementation and maintenance of such equipment require new skills for both maintenance and operator staff. Most electronic systems use PCs and software programs to diagnose failures, which requires maintenance staff to have a basic understanding of electronics and how to operate PCs. Inability to use computer technology to troubleshoot system problems can lead to inaccurate diagnoses, improper repairs, excessive labor costs, and unnecessary materials costs. Bus operators are increasingly being asked to help troubleshoot on-vehicle electronic systems when there are breakdowns while in operation. A more common but nevertheless important example of training need is related to today’s computer-based office operations and the software applications that employees use on a daily basis. Software applications are upgraded continually; if the office operation is to keep pace with these changes, employees need training to use them properly.

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The Workforce Challenge: Recruiting, Training, and Retaining Qualified Workers for Transportation and Transit agencies Similarly, transit agencies can use a portion of their federal operating and capital investment funds, about $32 million in FY 2002, for training. According to FTA, few of them use these funds for training, but there are no data indicating how many agencies do use it for this purpose or how much they use. With approximately 225,000 transit agency employees in the United States, these funds yield an average of $142 per employee in 2002. In comparison, a 2001 survey of 1,488 employers by the American Society of Training and Development found that these companies spent 2 percent of annual salaries on training. Leading companies spend even more: General Electric, 4.6 percent; U.S. Robotics, 4.2 percent; Motorola, 4 percent. FHWA, in recognition of its workforce training needs, has set a goal of 3 percent of annual salaries. Nevertheless, transportation agency training is not being neglected. There is an extensive array of targeted education and training for transportation agency staff, as well as for people interested in transportation careers. However, such efforts are fragmented and decentralized, reflecting the nature of the transportation system and the transportation agencies. Each agency has different training needs and limited resources, so no single agency addresses the full spectrum of industry needs. AASHTO’s Administrative Subcommittee on Personnel and Human Resources, APTA’s National Transit Workforce Initiative, and the National Transportation Training Directors have all recognized the industry need for cooperative workforce development activities aimed at making more effective use of limited resources.27 While these and other efforts point to the need for training the transportation workforce, they also reveal the need to learn more about alternative ways of developing skills and delivering training. Numerous approaches, including traditional classroom training, Web-based instruction, distance learning, computer-based training, and Web-based professional networks—and their cost-effectiveness—need to be explored. 27 The work of AASHTO’s Administrative Subcommittee on Personnel and Human Resources is described at www.nhi.fhwa.dot.gov/transworkforce/. APTA’s workforce development activities are described at www.apta.com/services/hrtraining/.

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The Workforce Challenge: Recruiting, Training, and Retaining Qualified Workers for Transportation and Transit agencies LEADERSHIP: A FEDERAL ROLE AND RESPONSIBILITY Surface transportation is essential to economic activity and social interaction. It also reinforces public policies concerning economic, social, defense, environmental, and, more recently, national security matters. The federal government—through the combined actions of Congress, the administration, and USDOT—is responsible for strategic national transportation interests. However, the delivery of transportation infrastructure and public transportation service takes place through a complex intergovernmental arrangement, which is based on a long history of federalism whereby more than 35,000 state and local government agencies carry out a national transportation program with guidance and direction from the federal government.28 The demands on the transportation workers in public agencies and in the private-sector organizations that support these agencies require a broad range of education, skills, and capabilities that change as new methods, materials, and technologies are developed and adopted. While workforce development is not exclusively a federal problem, the federal government has recognized its reliance on the transportation workforce of these government agencies and the private-sector companies that support them by assisting in several activities aimed at workforce development. For example, SDOTs and TAs can use a portion of federal surface transportation funds for employee training. The UTC program, which provides transportation-related education and research opportunities for graduate students, is funded in part with federal funds. The LTAP centers, also federally supported, provide training and technical assistance primarily to local transportation agencies, as well as to SDOTs, metropolitan planning organizations, private industry, and other transportation providers. NHI and NTI provide education and training opportunities, especially where training does not exist or is limited. USDOT has begun to partner with professional associations, especially AASHTO and APTA, to address workforce issues. 28 For example, there are six federal departments and three independent agencies involved in administering the laws that affect highway development alone.

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The Workforce Challenge: Recruiting, Training, and Retaining Qualified Workers for Transportation and Transit agencies In 2002, USDOT organized the National Transportation Workforce Summit, which enabled public- and private-sector and academic representatives to engage in extensive dialogue on transportation workforce issues (see Box 3-7). The summit underscored that the federal government has yet to develop a consistent strategy or programmatic goals addressing the full spectrum of transportation workforce issues.29 Participants concluded that a large unmet need and opportunity remain for federal government leadership in transportation workforce development. The committee agrees with this assessment. Continuing federal government reliance on the workforce of the nation’s highly fragmented and decentralized transportation agencies makes workforce development an important issue for the federal government. No single agency or organization has sufficient interest in or resources available to take on the full range of national transportation workforce development issues, especially in light of the highly mobile nature of the workforce. Moreover, a federal agency can interact directly with other federal agencies in activities that address and support workforce development and leverage these activities for the benefit of the transportation workforce.30 Taking a leadership role would help the federal government ensure that the programs it already supports lead to the outcomes it seeks. Stated simply, only the federal government has the breadth of interest and connections, combined with sufficient resources, to gather information about workforce development issues and programs, engage in and support partnerships with state and local transportation agencies and the private sector, and disseminate information about successful activities. 29 In 1998 USDOT launched the Garrett A. Morgan Technology and Transportation Futures Program to address several transportation workforce issues. Lack of federal support for the program led to elimination of its funding in 2000. Appendix G includes more information on the program. 30 The President’s Management Agenda makes the strategic management of human capital one of five federal government management priorities to improve government performance. The initiatives and remedies adopted at the federal level should provide important bases for developing human capital strategies for state and local governments. Source: www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget/fy2002/mgmt.pdf.

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The Workforce Challenge: Recruiting, Training, and Retaining Qualified Workers for Transportation and Transit agencies BOX 3-7 The 2002 National Transportation Workforce Summit On May 13, 2002, USDOT hosted the National Transportation Workforce Summit. The summit brought together leaders from government, academia, and the transit and highway communities to discuss the future of the transportation workforce, which includes everyone from construction workers and bus drivers to professional engineers. Workforce discussion sessions included the following topics: the workforce pipeline, training and professional development, and institutionalizing workforce development. Tom Warne, former director of the Utah Department of Transportation, summed up the summit by noting that transportation workforce development is of concern to all representatives of the various sectors of the transportation community. “The Summit should be seen as a first step of a process that can have a far-reaching impact on the future of transportation workforce development.” Summit participants were invited to sign the National Partnership for Educating, Training and Developing the Nation’s Transportation Workforce. Source: FHWA 2002. SUMMARY Transportation agencies, especially SDOTs, are experiencing considerable change. Traditionally, SDOTs have been civil engineering–oriented organizations. TAs also have a key need for civil engineering professionals. Today’s transportation agencies require a much wider range of skills, and their staffs include people from many disciplines. Moreover, alternative pathways for entering the transportation workforce are increasing in number, but little is known about how such nontraditional pathways attract or prepare

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The Workforce Challenge: Recruiting, Training, and Retaining Qualified Workers for Transportation and Transit agencies future agency staff. More knowledge about the various pathways offered by university engineering and transportation programs, community colleges, and nonengineering university degree programs could help SDOTs and TAs in their search for a qualified workforce. Taken together, many education and training opportunities are available to the transportation workforce. However, because the overall effort is highly fragmented, with little coordination or collaboration (and no single national leader), opportunities for improvement are being missed. Little effort has been made to clarify how much education and training are needed, available, or consumed by transportation agencies. Moreover, because funding for education and training varies considerably in the agencies, individual efforts often lack sufficient resources to have a national impact. The mix of opportunities available to provide agency staff with the knowledge, skills, and abilities they need indicates that there is much to be learned about alternative ways of supplying this knowledge. Not only traditional classroom training, but also Web-based instruction, distance learning, computer-based training, and Web-based professional networks31—and their cost-effectiveness—need to be explored. Finally, although some agencies have estimated their future workforce needs, the aggregate needs of all agencies have not been documented. Moreover, no single agency, organization, or association addresses the national transportation workforce need. The 2002 National Transportation Workforce Summit underscored the concerns and interest regarding workforce issues among public and private stakeholders but also illustrated the fragmented ownership and lack of leadership on this issue. Moreover, federal representatives at the National Transportation Workforce Summit acknowledged that 31 The U.S. Navy has established computer-based professional networks, called communities of practice, as a part of the knowledge management system it needs for its far-flung enterprise. Private companies such as Parsons Brinckerhoff have created similar networks, called professional area networks, to enable employees to share similar professional interests and work within the same discipline or practice area. Such approaches to training and professional support are only beginning to be exploited.

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The Workforce Challenge: Recruiting, Training, and Retaining Qualified Workers for Transportation and Transit agencies USDOT has yet to address the transportation workforce issue. It remains to be seen whether leadership can be brought to bear on the issue. REFERENCES Abbreviations FHWA Federal Highway Administration NCES National Center for Education Statistics Bailey, T. 2002. Community Colleges in the 21st Century: Challenges and Opportunities. In The Knowledge Economy and Postsecondary Education: Report of a Workshop (P. A. Graham and N. G. Stacey, eds.), National Research Council, Washington, D.C., pp. 59–76. Bechky, B. A. 1999. Summary of the Workshop. In Competence Without Credentials, Office of Educational Research and Improvement, U.S. Department of Education, March. www.ed.gov/pubs/Competence/section7.html. Feisel, L., and G. Peterson. 2002. A Colloquy on Learning Objectives for Engineering Education Laboratories. Proc., 2002 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference and Exposition, Montreal, Quebec, Canada. FHWA. 2002. National Transportation Workforce Summit: Summary of Proceedings. U.S. Department of Transportation, Washington, D.C., May. FHWA. 2003. European Practices in Transportation Workforce Development: Results of an AASHTO–FHWA Scanning Tour. U.S. Department of Transportation, Washington, D.C. Lerman, R., S. K. Riegg, and H. Salzman. 2000. The Role of Community Colleges in Expanding the Supply of Information Technology Workers. DOL Contract No. J-9-M-5-0048. The Urban Institute, May. 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. Murnane, R., N. Sharkey, and F. Levy. 2002. A Role for the Internet in American Education? Lessons from the Cisco Networking Academies. In The Knowledge Economy and Postsecondary Education: Report of a Workshop (P. A. Graham and N. G. Stacey, eds.), National Research Council, Washington, D.C., pp. 127–158. NCES. 2000. The Condition of Education. U.S. Department of Education, Washington, D.C.

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