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Estimates of future SOM workforce needs Generalized SOM career paths Overview of SOM career lattice or pipeline Strategic SOM workforce recommendations Action plan for implementing workforce recommendations at each career stage. Understanding the key issues, trends, and the strategic recommendations provided in this report will help enable decision makers and program managers to identify and implement cost-effective workforce solutions. These proposed workforce practices will assist SOM departments in attracting, recruiting, retaining, and developing individuals who have the knowledge, skills, and abilities to operate and manage highway systems in a manner that will maximize their operational capacity and meet the nation's growing transportation needs. 3.1 KEY WORKFORCE CHALLENGES AND TRENDS Researchers and transportation leaders alike agree that the transportation industry is experiencing a growing number of challenges related to workforce attraction, recruitment, training, and retention (Cronin et al., 2011, Cronin, Heinen, and Youman, 2007, Warne, 2003, Warne, 2005, Skinner, 2000, TRB, 2003). For example, TRB Special Report 275 (2003) indicates that the transportation workforce requires a broader range of skills than in the past because agency missions are changing and expanding and new technologies continue to emerge. This is particularly true for SOM-specific positions in transportation systems. Five critical issues affecting SOM workforce attraction, recruitment, training, and retention are listed below; detailed descriptions follow. Demographic changes in the workforce, including Baby Boomer retirement Availability of training New technologies Demand on transportation agencies Demographic Changes in the Workforce. "Baby Boomer" retirements are one of the major challenges facing SOM and transportation systems (Warne, 2005). Although departures have slowed due to the economy, studies indicate that 50% of the transportation workforce will be eligible to retire in the next 10 years, which is double the retirement rate of the nation's entire workforce (New Mexico State Highway and Transportation Department, 1999, TRB, 2003). In many cases, retirees are the only ones who possess specialized knowledge and unique experiences, as well as historical perspective, critical for efficient operation of the organization (Rothwell and Poduch, 2004). According to the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), Baby Boomers compose such a large portion of the total population that the age 65+ group is predicted to grow at a rate that is four times that of the entire population; one out of five people will be in this group by the year 2030. Thus, while customer bases will be soaring, personnel losses for many organizations will be significant. Adding further complexity, the loss of these highly skilled personnel is likely to result in skill gaps needed to perform mission- critical tasks. 9

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The retirement of Baby Boomers will result in many new opportunities for the next generation of SOM workers in the long term; however, in the short term, the economic recession has resulted in the retention of many retirement-eligible employees for several more years. Additionally, interview participants suggested that the recession and lack of employment opportunities has led students to stay in school longer and delay their entrance into the workforce. As a result, DOTs have benefited by obtaining additional time to address critical issues concerning knowledge management systems and succession planning programs, which are essential to help junior employees learn and adopt best practices in the field. This additional time is priceless, because several participants acknowledged their transportation agency lacked these components completely. As the Baby Boomers do retire, the new workforce is becoming more diverse than ever. In the past, seniority has defined the placement of many SOM managers, professionals, and technicians, thereby resulting in the majority of this management workforce being older Caucasian males. However, the potential applicant pool for SOM positions is much younger with greater ethnic and gender diversity. While expanding the applicant pool helps alleviate challenges associated with maintaining a sustainable workforce, cross-cultural differences can also give rise to new challenges for management. For example, one participant indicated that in his region, communication issues may arise as a result of language barriers. Lastly, the impending influx of younger workers into leadership positions presents another set of challenges. For example, younger workers typically expect more support from their employers in terms of work-life balance and flexible work arrangements (Zemke, Raines, and Filipczak, 2000). Participants also commented on the younger generation's need to see how they can advance throughout their career, which is sometimes difficult to illustrate in SOM since the field currently lacks a standardized career path. These types of benefits may need to be added to recruitment packages to attract, recruit, and retain a viable workforce. Furthermore, participants indicated that motivational factors vary across generations, specifically citing the younger generation's need to be stimulated and challenged in their work, perhaps as a result of growing up with an emphasis on multi-tasking and greater feedback from their environment. These differences may result in the need for new management approaches in order to keep younger employees engaged and to retain them in the workforce. Availability of Training. Training that focuses on transportation-related issues can help address the demographic changes, technology advances, and greater demands that this industry faces. Much attention has been paid to the need for training within transportation as a whole, as well as available training resources for the industry (Warne, 2003, Warne, 2005, Shiplett, 2007, Spy Pond Partners et al., 2009; and TRB, 2003). Recently, NCHRP Project 20-77 (2008) was conducted in order to determine what training is needed, what training is available for SOM staff, what training gaps exist, and what is the most effective way to deliver missing training. The resulting gap analysis identified several SOM competencies for which training tends to be nonexistent or significantly lacking (e.g., comprehensive-level special event management, overview-level electronic payment systems) and many other SOM competencies for which there is very little or inadequate training (e.g., intermediate-level arterial operations, all levels of automated safety enforcement). Therefore, there is a critical need for SOM training, particularly given Baby Boomer retirements, increasing expectations for transportation capacity 10

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enhancements via implementation of new and evolving SOM technologies and practices, a potential workforce with insufficient skills, and the ever increasing demand for SOM services. The need for formal SOM training programs--specifically in terms of communicating with the public, understanding the policy side, and understanding and operating new technologies--was accentuated throughout our interviews, as these expert practitioners and managers have observed gaps among the desirable experiences and skill levels of SOM personnel and the existing knowledge and skills of those employees entering the field. Interview participants indicated that SOM personnel do learn about opportunities in transportation SOM while enrolled in school. Civil and electrical engineering courses in community colleges and universities that focus on or discuss transportation can be the gateway to SOM careers (Agrawal and Dill, 2009). However, interview participants reported that the training students receive from colleges and universities is often insufficient to prepare for a career in SOM. SOM is a special branch of engineering, communications, technology, and systems management that frequently requires background in multiple fields to perform well. Participants remarked on the value of a diverse background in the transportation organization that would then help the SOM staff person "see how all the pieces fit together" and then operate better, through SOM. Others commented on the importance of communication and collaboration skills for employees within SOM and indicated that finding engineering applicants with these skills is a challenge; these skills are primarily developed through experiences and cross-training in diverse fields. Furthermore, some participants suggested that the training offered to students is too broad and that entry-level applicants frequently lack key, specialized SOM skills. Interviewees indicated that the curricula used at some universities and colleges apparently do not engage SOM skills at all. Alarmingly, these participants have observed a parallel trend in students making decisions about which field of transportation they will specialize in, before they have a chance to hear about or get to know SOM, so they are neither considering nor preparing for SOM careers. Given the near pre-requisite of cross-training in multiple areas of the DOT before assuming a leadership role in SOM and the value of transportation experience for all SOM staff, participants almost unanimously agreed that more formal training is needed once an employee enters an organization, regardless of the training students obtain in college. Almost every interview participant representing a DOT on the West Coast indicated a need to create an operations training academy, similar to the University of Maryland Operations Academy, in their region of the country or alternatively, a web-based SOM training academy program. Additionally, participants discussed a shared need for DOT-level training, since it is critical that SOM personnel understand the infrastructure, operations, and stakeholders at the agency level. By and large, participants felt such training could be developed or would be in existence and already available, were funding sufficient. They did comment that there has been an increase in the amount of webinars conducted for training and outreach with their DOTs, especially welcome given the difficulty of funding out-of-state travel for staff development. New Technologies. Technological innovations have played an important role in how transportation agencies accomplish their mission and in the evolution of SOM careers. The most recent examples of technological innovation in transportation agencies have emerged from Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS). ITS technologies, which involve the convergence of 11

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communication, computing sensing, and control technologies, focus on achieving operational improvements through services such as freeway and incident management, traveler information, and road weather information (TRB, 2003). The emergence of ITS technologies has influenced not only what transportation agencies do but how they plan and conduct projects, as "the use of ITS to operate and manage transportation systems creates a whole new operating environment for transportation agencies and increases the demand for people who understand and operate these technologies" (TRB, 2003, p. 39). Initiatives at the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) highlight the increased reliance on technology to operate more effectively, as their ITS program adopted a formal communications procedure. The regional architecture system PennDOT developed allows transportation system managers, operators, emergency services providers, local officials, and information service providers to communicate more efficiently with one another and respond more quickly and appropriately to congestion or emergency situations (PennDOT, 2007). Similarly, transportation agencies are increasing their reliance on the media and technology to communicate incident information to the public. Increased reliance on technology affects recruitment, development, and retention of SOM personnel in multiple and sometimes contradictory ways. For example, although technology can improve efficiency, interview participants suggested the use of these devices may push some experienced staff out of key positions as job functions become more technologically oriented. Conversely, utilizing state-of-the-art tools to streamline work processes may help to retain other employees as certain work tasks become easier. Cutting-edge technologies may also help to improve SOM's attractiveness as a field and can be used as a recruitment tool. Yet, as more complex operating systems gain momentum in the transportation industry, more technologically savvy systems operators and managers are needed. This is particularly evident within the SOM workforce where new technology and the complex relationships for personnel working across different modes, disciplines, and with differing stakeholder groups require a unique set of skills (Martin and Glenn, 2002). In any case, new employee recruitment and retention techniques should be considered as job functions and procedures continue to evolve. Interview participants in this study indicated that there is a greater need for employees knowledgeable in ITS, with skills in Geographic Information Systems (GIS), critical thinking, document management, and especially systems management, because participants anticipated the greatest gaps among SOM skill sets to be computer-related. An increase in computer literacy is imperative for SOM employees as the ability to use and manage the DOT's computerized systems becomes more important. Innovation and creativity were additional skills that participants suggested would be valuable to the workforce. The unique demands of the jobs and the lack of available, tailored training led many participants to believe that DOTs will begin cultivating and using more in-house capabilities. Participants forecast diminishing reliance on contractors in some cases and more reliance on hiring and training new employees, both to improve internal capacity and to reduce the vulnerability to transportation operations of not having the ability to perform certain key job functions. It is critical that DOTs address these needs to create a talent pipeline full of qualified applicants ready to move into SOM positions, because SOM experts will be increasingly in demand. 12

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Several interview participants also indicated that their transportation agencies were identifying ways to utilize new technologies in an effort to make information more manageable and available. The distribution of these messages is through radio and television outlets, dynamic message signs along the roadways, traveler information internet sites, pager and broadcast fax alerts, and traveler information telephone numbers (FHWA, 2010). Furthermore, the installation of cameras and other traffic monitoring equipment helps supplement information provided to travelers. The emergence of complex equipment using new technology, specifically ITS and advanced electronics, requires a parallel investment in training personnel to ensure that the equipment is safely and effectively operated and maintained. The need for this type of training was commonly expressed throughout our interviews, as participants described the criticality for employees to understand the technology they use to perform their job. Without understanding the technology, employees are less able to interpret the data or understand the design of system components or other potential inter-relationships. Transportation personnel, specifically those employed in SOM, have acknowledged that keeping pace with advanced electronic-based technologies solely through traditional on-the-job training is not sufficient (McGlothin Davis and Corporate Strategies, 2002). To address this need, many traditional classroom-based activities have moved to web-based versions, which can make it easier for more personnel to take the training courses. Furthermore, the advent of sophisticated simulators allows for realistic job previews and training for complex positions, such as those in transportation SOM. Demand on Transportation Agencies. The demand on transportation agencies has been dramatically increasing over the past few decades, highlighting the need for successful attraction, recruitment, development, and retention practices in SOM. Although it has slowed recently, vehicle miles traveled (VMT) has grown by over 80% in the past 20 years. In addition, although transportation agencies have worked hard to keep up, the capacity of the current highway system is still not adequate to address this growth (AASHTO, 2002). Furthermore, transportation agencies are being called to broaden their focus from construction to finding and creating capacity improvements through more diverse SOM activities, which require a sophisticated understanding of the transportation system and traffic behavior, along with many other inter- related disciplines. Data from our interviews with SOM experts provide insight to the current demand on transportation agencies, because the majority of our participants indicated a paradigm shift in progress as state DOTs are changing their focus from building and adding new roads to maintaining, operating, and managing the system more efficiently. Their changing mission and broader responsibilities require a workforce capable of addressing a variety of issues other than construction and civil engineering; electrical engineering, IT, and communications systems are newer areas for DOTs. Thus, it is critical for transportation agencies to recruit and retain a workforce with a wider range of technical disciplines such as SOM (TRB, 2003). In addition, the majority of participants interviewed accentuated a need to define SOM because it often varies from DOT to DOT based on whatever their current needs are. For example, to help DOTs and the public better understand the value of SOM, participants indicated a need to create separate job descriptions and position titles, since the majority of the DOTs use regular civil and electrical engineering job descriptions. This would also help to attract appropriate applicants. 13