“Each location had to figure out for themselves, what is it the people need to know to be able to do to be a terrific what-ever-the-job is,” he says. “”They have to figure out for themselves, how would you teach that and what’s the right order of instruction, what materials would you use and how would you figure out if anyone actually learned anything.” That was left up to 1,000 different transit agencies.
Back in 2003/2004 they developed a participative process for the industry as a whole with transit agencies, workers and their unions to develop industrywide training standards so everyone can see what great training looks like.
Apprenticeship is the umbrella that covers all of this work and the industrywide training standards are the framework. Locations that apply this apprenticeship model with these learning standards can expand and improve their training and consistency and do it at a much lower cost with this national framework.
Mark Dysart, senior associate, says, “These are isolated locations that have apprenticeship programs, but the industry has now gotten together and determined what these apprenticeships ought to look like and what kind of an example they should set for others that want to do it in the future.”
Dysart explains that their regional partnership in Pennsylvania is a pattern they hope to repeat in other places around the country. With Pittsburgh and Philadelphia on either end of the state with good-sized agencies and well-developed training capacity, smaller agencies in between can partner with them if the larger agencies can open up some classes or send trainers out.
Investing in the Future
Turner of the Transportation Learning Center says with the transportation funding, there are billions of dollars each year for buses, trains, bridges: the physical capital. “But there’s nothing in there for human capital. Anybody that’s been through a few commerce courses will tell you that if you only pay attention to physical capital and ignore human capital, you’re not going to have the skills that you need to have safe, reliable operations.”
He stresses, “The fact that there are not resources for training is a reflection of the continuing absence of a needed priority of federal transportation policy that there needs to be money for training for the overall transportation package.”
“The issue of developing people has to be one of the important topics that is on every agency’s agenda,” Barnes stresses. “We’ve got to pay attention to it; we’ve got to invest in our people just like we invest in our capital infrastructure.”