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2021 N A T I O N A L C O O P E R A T I V E H I G H W A Y R E S E A R C H P R O G R A M NCHRP RESEARCH REPORT 980 Attracting, Retaining, and Developing the Transportation Workforce: Transportation Planners Michael Meyer WSP USA, Inc. Atlanta, GA Jagannath Mallela WSP USA, Inc. Washington, DC Adiele Nwankwo Cincar Consulting Group Atlanta, GA Nicole Bennett Cincar Consulting Group Raleigh, NC Linda Washington The Washington Consulting Team Alexandria, VA Steve Lockwood Steve Lockwood, LLC Essex, MD Subscriber Categories Administration and Management â¢ Planning and Forecasting Research sponsored by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration
NATIONAL COOPERATIVE HIGHWAY RESEARCH PROGRAM Systematic, well-designed, and implementable research is the most effective way to solve many problems facing state departments of transportation (DOTs) administrators and engineers. Often, highway problems are of local or regional interest and can best be studied by state DOTs individually or in cooperation with their state universities and others. However, the accelerating growth of highway transporta- tion results in increasingly complex problems of wide interest to high- way authorities. These problems are best studied through a coordinated program of cooperative research. Recognizing this need, the leadership of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) in 1962 ini- tiated an objective national highway research program using modern scientific techniquesâthe National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP). NCHRP is supported on a continuing basis by funds from participating member states of AASHTO and receives the full cooperation and support of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), United States Department of Transportation, under Agree- ment No. 693JJ31950003. The Transportation Research Board (TRB) of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine was requested by AASHTO to administer the research program because of TRBâs recognized objectivity and understanding of modern research practices. TRB is uniquely suited for this purpose for many reasons: TRB maintains an extensive com- mittee structure from which authorities on any highway transportation subject may be drawn; TRB possesses avenues of communications and cooperation with federal, state, and local governmental agencies, univer- sities, and industry; TRBâs relationship to the National Academies is an insurance of objectivity; and TRB maintains a full-time staff of special- ists in highway transportation matters to bring the findings of research directly to those in a position to use them. The program is developed on the basis of research needs iden- tified by chief administrators and other staff of the highway and transportation departments, by committees of AASHTO, and by the FHWA. Topics of the highest merit are selected by the AASHTO Special Committee on Research and Innovation (R&I), and each year R&Iâs recommendations are proposed to the AASHTO Board of Direc- tors and the National Academies. Research projects to address these topics are defined by NCHRP, and qualified research agencies are selected from submitted proposals. Administration and surveillance of research contracts are the responsibilities of the National Academies and TRB. The needs for highway research are many, and NCHRP can make significant contributions to solving highway transportation problems of mutual concern to many responsible groups. The program, however, is intended to complement, rather than to substitute for or duplicate, other highway research programs. Published research reports of the NATIONAL COOPERATIVE HIGHWAY RESEARCH PROGRAM are available from Transportation Research Board Business Office 500 Fifth Street, NW Washington, DC 20001 and can be ordered through the Internet by going to https://www.mytrb.org/MyTRB/Store/default.aspx Printed in the United States of America NCHRP RESEARCH REPORT 980 Project 08-125 ISSN 2572-3766 (Print) ISSN 2572-3774 (Online) ISBN 978-0-309-09413-9 Library of Congress Control Number 2021948227 Â© 2021 National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. COPYRIGHT INFORMATION Authors herein are responsible for the authenticity of their materials and for obtaining written permissions from publishers or persons who own the copyright to any previously published or copyrighted material used herein. Cooperative Research Programs (CRP) grants permission to reproduce material in this publication for classroom and not-for-profit purposes. Permission is given with the understanding that none of the material will be used to imply TRB, AASHTO, FAA, FHWA, FTA, GHSA, NHTSA, or TDC endorsement of a particular product, method, or practice. It is expected that those reproducing the material in this document for educational and not-for-profit uses will give appropriate acknowledgment of the source of any reprinted or reproduced material. For other uses of the material, request permission from CRP. NOTICE The research report was reviewed by the technical panel and accepted for publication according to procedures established and overseen by the Transportation Research Board and approved by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The opinions and conclusions expressed or implied in this report are those of the researchers who performed the research and are not necessarily those of the Transportation Research Board; the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; the FHWA; or the program sponsors. The Transportation Research Board; the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; and the sponsors of the National Cooperative Highway Research Program do not endorse products or manufacturers. Trade or manufacturersâ names or logos appear herein solely because they are considered essential to the object of the report.
The National Academy of Sciences was established in 1863 by an Act of Congress, signed by President Lincoln, as a private, non- governmental institution to advise the nation on issues related to science and technology. Members are elected by their peers for outstanding contributions to research. Dr. Marcia McNutt is president. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964 under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences to bring the practices of engineering to advising the nation. Members are elected by their peers for extraordinary contributions to engineering. Dr. John L. Anderson is president. The National Academy of Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine) was established in 1970 under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences to advise the nation on medical and health issues. Members are elected by their peers for distinguished contributions to medicine and health. Dr. Victor J. Dzau is president. The three Academies work together as the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to provide independent, objective analysis and advice to the nation and conduct other activities to solve complex problems and inform public policy decisions. The National Academies also encourage education and research, recognize outstanding contributions to knowledge, and increase public understanding in matters of science, engineering, and medicine. Learn more about the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine at www.nationalacademies.org. The Transportation Research Board is one of seven major programs of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The mission of the Transportation Research Board is to provide leadership in transportation improvements and innovation through trusted, timely, impartial, and evidence-based information exchange, research, and advice regarding all modes of transportation. The Boardâs varied activities annually engage about 8,000 engineers, scientists, and other transportation researchers and practitioners from the public and private sectors and academia, all of whom contribute their expertise in the public interest. The program is supported by state transportation departments, federal agencies including the component administrations of the U.S. Department of Transportation, and other organizations and individuals interested in the development of transportation. Learn more about the Transportation Research Board at www.TRB.org.
C O O P E R A T I V E R E S E A R C H P R O G R A M S AUTHOR ACKNOWLEDGMENTS This project included four pilot studies that were used to assess the application of the tool developed as part of the research. The authors acknowledge the help from the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC), the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT), the Montana Department of Transportation (MDOT), and the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) in hosting these pilot studies. The arrange- ments were particularly challenging given the in-person meeting restrictions resulting from COVID-19. CRP STAFF FOR NCHRP RESEARCH REPORT 980 Christopher J. Hedges, Director, Cooperative Research Programs Lori L. Sundstrom, Deputy Director, Cooperative Research Programs Waseem Dekelbab, Associate Program Manager, National Cooperative Highway Research Program Ann M. Hartell, Senior Program Officer Jarrell McAfee, Senior Program Assistant Natalie Barnes, Director of Publications Heather DiAngelis, Associate Director of Publications Margaret B. Hagood, Senior Editor NCHRP PROJECT 08-125 PANEL Field of Transportation PlanningâArea of Planning Methods & Processes Tanisha J. Hall, Fairpointe Planning, Nashville, TN (Chair) La Keda Huckabay, California Department of Transportation (CALTRANS), Sacramento, CA Carmen Tallon Monroy, Stantec, Fort Myers, FL Veronica Murphy, New Jersey Department of Transportation, Trenton, NJ Michael J. Smart, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ Janille Smith-Colin, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, TX Bonnie Wohlberg, Minnesota Department of Transportation, St. Paul, MN Lynn T. Zanto, Montana Department of Transportation, Helena, MT Larry Anderson, FHWA Liaison Matthew H. Hardy, AASHTO Liaison Jennifer Libby Weeks, TRB Liaison
NCHRP Research Report 980: Attracting, Retaining, and Developing the Transportation Workforce: Transportation Planners presents an assessment of current and emerging forces that are shaping transportation planning practice and the transportation planning workforce. This report will be of interest to directors of transportation planning programs, human resource managers, and workforce development professionals responsible for attracting, developing, and retaining planning professionals. Transportation agency leadership will find information on how transportation planners can be effective in helping an agency respond to current and emerging trends that affect functional areas across the agency. The report will also be of interest to those responsible for educating future transportation planning professionals. NCHRP Report 798: The Role of Planning in a 21st Century State Department of TransportationâSupporting Strategic Decisionmaking defined planning as the âfactual, analytical, and collaborative basis for reaching decisions to improve multimodal transporta- tion system performance. Effective planning results in cost-effective, cooperative, and respon- sive transportation solutions that achieve desired societal outcomes by balancing costs and benefits to communities, the economy, and the environment.â While traditional planning competencies are well matched for the development of sound transportation plans at state departments of transportation (DOTs) and other transportation agencies, emerging forces are reshaping the transportation planning and decision-making landscape. These forces include rapidly changing transportation technologies and services such as connected and automated vehicles and shared mobility; demographic trends that affect travel behavior and public engagement activities; and trends in the nature of data and data-driven decision-making. To effectively respond to this evolving landscape, a transportation agency needs access to an array of professionals with different talent profiles. A talent profile includes a spe- cific configuration of knowledge, skills, abilities, experience, and education (KSAEEs), with associated levels of proficiency for each. Even when needed KSAEEs and talent profiles are identified, agencies frequently face challenges in recruiting and retaining the talent they need. Although pay scales are understood to be important in this regard, other consider- ations are also important. Understanding the interests and motivations of planners provides important insights for designing an effective program to managing planning talent, today and into the future. Under NCHRP Project 08-125, WSP USA, Inc. was charged with building on the find- ings of NCHRP Report 798 with (1) an exploration of forces and trends relevant for trans- portation planning at state DOTs; (2) development of talent profiles for state, regional, and local transportation planners that are aligned with existing and emerging agency needs; and (3)Â resources for agencies seeking to attract, develop, manage, and retain planning talent. F O R E W O R D By Ann M. Hartell Staff Officer Transportation Research Board
The project activities included a review of current and emerging trends that will shape the work of transportation planners in the coming decades, as well as outreach to transporta- tion planning professionals at differing stages of their careers. These activities informed the development of two downloadable talent profile tools: one for use by a transportation agency or other employer and one designed for employees. These tools are accompanied by a Quick Reference Guide (QRG) that provides users with information on how to use the tools to manage transportation planning talent by matching agency needs with planning KSAEEs at the planning-unit level and for individual planning positions and employees. The talent profile tools were piloted with four transportation agencies: Minnesota DOT, Montana DOT, New Jersey DOT, and the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC). The talent profile tool and other materialsâincluding a brief stand-alone summary of the project suitable for briefing agency leadershipâare available from the TRB website (search for âNCHRP Report 980â at www.trb.org).
C O N T E N T S 1 Summary 5 Chapter 1 Project Context, Research Objectives, and Approach 5 1.1 Introduction 8 1.2 Project Objectives 9 1.3 Research Approach 12 Chapter 2 Understanding Gen Z Workers 12 2.1 Gen Z General Observations 18 Chapter 3 Data Collection and Synthesis 18 3.1 Literature and Website Review 24 3.2 Consulting Firm Survey 26 3.3 AASHTO Transportation Planning Survey 30 3.4 TRB Annual Meeting Session/Workshop 33 3.5 COMTO Facilitated Focus Group 34 3.6 Interviews with University and Training Officials 36 3.7 Synthesis 42 Chapter 4 Workforce Development and Talent Management 42 4.1 The Talent Management Process and Talent Profiles 48 Chapter 5 Talent Management Tool 48 5.1 Tool Logic 53 5.2 Tool Validation 58 Chapter 6 Recruitment, Professional Development, and Retention Strategies for a Dynamic Work Environment 61 6.1 Talent Management Strategy 61 6.2 Recruitment 62 6.3 Professional Development 63 6.4 Retention 63 6.5 Summary 64 Chapter 7 Introduction to the Talent Management QRG 64 7.1 Use of the QRG for Defining Desired Planning Unit/Position KSAs 68 7.2 Assessing Institutional Factors in Developing and Administering a Talent Management Process 71 Chapter 8 Overarching Observations
72 References 74 List of Acronyms A-1 Appendix A Survey/Interview Templates B-1 Appendix B Illustrative Talent Profiles for Different Transportation Planning Positions C-1 Appendix C Quick Reference Guide Note: Photographs, figures, and tables in this report may have been converted from color to grayscale for printing. The electronic version of the report (posted on the web at www.trb.org) retains the color versions.