Central to workforce efforts described previously has been the funding of university-based research by the Federal Transit Authority (FTA) and through the Transportation Research Board’s (TRB) TCRP. The listing of TCRP workforce studies reads like a history of workforce issues — from total quality and performance measures in the 1990s to workforce availability and succession planning, gender and racial diversity, generations at work, training needs and workforce practices and certification and compensations studies. Each has added to the body of knowledge that has practical application in the delivery of workforce development programs and initiatives.
All of the programs mentioned were conceived by industry leaders with the passion and foresight to see the need and find a solution, and, implemented by countless volunteers and staff who believed in moving the industry forward.
APTA Blue Ribbon Panel on Workforce Development
In her October 2008 acceptance speech as the chair of APTA board of directors, Dr. Beverly Scott (CEO MARTA) focused APTA’s attention on workforce development, announcing the formation of the Workforce Development Blue Ribbon Panel. The goal of the panel was to establish a long-range plan for the development of transit’s workforce, including the cataloguing of current workforce initiatives and the rebranding and repositioning of transit as an employer of choice.
Referencing the achievements of the 2001 APTA Workforce Development Initiative, Scott noted that the work to enhance the transit workforce is never finished; the questions of 2001 remain relevant as the industry considers the workforce needs over the next 10 years. How do we position our industry as an “employer of choice” and strengthen the image of public transportation as a vibrant, meaningful place to work?
Doran Barnes (Foothill Transit), APTA vice chair of human resources, was appointed to chair the panel. The work is being conducted through the following six working groups:
Immediate Issues Working Group
This working group was charged to review, analyze and advance legislative proposals related to potential workforce development programs, including authorization, impact of economic recovery legislation and immediate legislation addressing workforce needs for all job categories.
Image and Branding: Making the Business Case for Workforce Development
The result of this group’s effort will include a plan to increase the visibility and attractiveness of transportation career opportunities.
Higher Education Working Group
Defining higher education as community colleges, undergraduate and graduate programs, trade and technical schools, and specialized institutes addressing the academic and development needs of the public transportation industry, this workgroup has guided efforts to identify current academic programs, consider research and programmatic initiatives that promote and expand the workforce pipeline.
Youth Outreach and Awareness Working Group
Recognizing the importance of building the future workforce, this working group targets youth K through 12. The goal is to educate the next generation of prospective workers about the transportation industry by building on existing youth outreach programs and identifying partnering opportunities in communities.
Partnerships and Collaborations Working Group
Under the direction of Robert Prince (AECOM) and Mary Ann Collier (San Joaquin RTD), this group is investigating the opportunities for collaborations and partnerships to further the development of workforce initiatives.
Performance Metrics/ ROI/Benchmarking Working Group
This group considers the development of models to measure return on investment and the establishment of a benchmarking program to measure the effectiveness of transit workforce development programs. The group has investigated current metrics and considered the next steps in research needed to further this effort.
Scott charged the Blue Ribbon Panel to move the industry forward with a concrete research agenda and specific program recommendations. Each working group has outlined specific short- and long-term initiatives to establish transportation as a career of choice. Final recommendations will be presented in fall 2009. For more information, contact Pam Boswell at email@example.com or Joe Niegoski at firstname.lastname@example.org.
APTA HR Committee: Workforce Development Subcommittee Initiatives
In addition to the targeted Blue Ribbon Panel effort, APTA ensures that ongoing attention is paid to workforce development through the human resource committee. The committee is managed through two subcommittees: labor and workforce development.