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Branding the Organization/Industry 53 Exhibit 7-1 (Continued) Snapshot of Chapter 7 Workforce Pipeline Target Area Target Career Stages Comm. 4 year Graduate Entry-Level Mid-Career Senior K-12 Retirees Colleges Colleges Schools Staff Staff Leaders TRANSPORTATION WORKFORCE PIPELINE Branding the Organization/Industry Chapter 7 Target Area 7.1 Workforce Challenges. Programs related to "Branding the Organization/Industry" are typically designed to address negative and inaccurate perceptions of a job or career within the industry. These challenges should be carefully considered before selecting the program that would best fit the needs of your agency. For example, these are common challenges agencies face: Failure to Adequately Brand the Industry. The image of the transportation industry is poor among some youth, parents, and educators. Due to this negative stigma, young people who seek jobs or develop skills that are used in transportation jobs often discredit the transportation industry as a career option. Transportation jobs are often thought to be jobs that involve getting dirty (can be an asset for environmental professionals who prefer jobs that get them out into the field/nature) and have low wages and little chance for advancement, without recognizing the potential long-term career opportunities. Transportation organizations need to continue to unify efforts around re-branding the industry and educating young people regarding their opportunities. Employee Age, Generational Gap. Organizations mentioned two compounding trends where a large population of older workers is retiring from skilled positions in the next 5 years and less younger workers are joining the transportation workforce. Even if the number of young people joining the workforce does increase, transportation organizations may not have enough time to develop the skills necessary to fill vacant positions if retirements and turnover accelerate again. Participants reported that the greatest workforce challenge is marketing careers in the transportation industry to young people and recruiting them into skilled and unskilled positions, though such difficulties have eased with high unemployment across the country. Contractors are challenged with finding ways to demonstrate that transportation jobs are rewarding, long-term careers. The current workforce is skewed toward the upper age brackets given a large influx 20-40 years ago, leading to conditions over the last decade and a half where employees have been retiring at a faster rate than young people are entering the industry. Misperceptions of the Job. Transportation participants indicated that their organizations struggle with negative perceptions associated with the transportation industry. A large percentage of potential applicants do not understand the range of positions and opportunities available in transportation. For example, one participant noted that the majority of students attending a high school career fair indicated on a survey that an engineer was (only) the person who drove a train. Another participant described a college engineering professor who deterred his students from taking jobs at the DOT because it would be a "waste of their talent." The problem is more acute for maintenance engineers, and maintenance staff comprise the bulk of remaining DOT staff now. Organizations are challenged with convincing potential applicants that they can establish a full career, not just a temporary job, in transportation.