As more and more transit workers retire and their successors move into their positions, the ranks are thinning. What’s being done about it today will ensure a robust, innovative transportation workforce for tomorrow.
To help the transportation industry tap into the wide variety of professional career development programs, events, and opportunities that encourage workforce development, the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) developed a workforce development website with resources such as early career professional development programs and executive education, as well as an Early Career Program.
APTA Chair Flora Castillo has made the development of the next generation of public transportation workers and leaders one of her priorities during her term.
Additionally, the Federal Transportation Administration (FTA) recently distributed $7 million in funds from its Innovative Transit Workforce Development Program to 17 organizations in 12 states. The grants will help public transit agencies, schools, nonprofit organizations, and Native American tribes train a future generation of transit professionals, with an emphasis on promoting training opportunities in emerging technologies and encouraging young people to pursue careers in public transportation.
One recipient, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, was awarded a $795,334 workforce grant to provide military veterans and high school students with skills training and assistance to help them transition into the agency’s Bus Maintenance Apprenticeship programs.
Last month, I spoke with Darrell Johnson, the new Orange County Transportation Authority CEO, about his plans to expand succession planning, including the agency’s one-year long leadership development academy. He stressed the need to develop and nurture the workforce on all levels, particularly in the transit operations group, which has an aging workforce. Look for the full interview in our April issue.
Workforce development is also crucial for women in all professions, particularly when it comes to moving into leadership positions.
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s new book, Lean In, encourages women to do more to obtain leadership positions and take their place at the executive table.
Reviewing her book, a Time magazine article points out that “Slightly more than 4% of Fortune 500 companies are headed by women, and women hold 17% of board seats. Worse, these numbers aren’t changing very fast. Ten years ago, 14% of board seats were held by women...”
More puzzling, Sandberg also commented in the article that women are not making it to the top of any profession, and many people still don't seem aware of that fact.
Over the next few months, I look forward to researching and talking with people in the industry on this timely and important topic. I hope to gather a wide variety of perspectives. If you have a program, anecdote or thoughts on the topic that you’d like to share, please feel free to contact me.
In case you missed it...
Read our METRO blog, "Closure of Fung Wah sends clear message" here.
Agencies that use Twitter to respond to users’ complaints or answer questions get more positive Twitter reaction and more civil discourse online, according to Lisa Schweitzer the author of a recent study analyzing tweets of public transit agencies. “It’s about the marketing potential of social media — a lot of public transit agencies are simply tweeting their problems to the world by blasting out late service announcements. That’s not a good use of Twitter,” she says. “Transit agencies can influence the tone of the discussion by interacting with patrons online,” Schweitzer explains. “It gives people something to respond to, and it reminds people that somebody is listening.”
Usually by early January, I will hopefully have taken down the last of our holiday decorations and eaten or given away the remaining sweets that have become a part of my regular diet during the month of December. Then, of course like most people, I’ll think about ways I want to improve myself for the coming year. Whether it be exercising more (walking from the parking lot to my office doesn’t count), eating less ice cream or managing my email better. The latter practice alone would help improve my efficiency at work immensely. I’m sure you probably feel the same way.
A new National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) study solidifies what the American Public Transportation Association’s (APTA) Transit Savings Report has been telling us for years now: riding public transportation can save users money.
June 20 will mark the 8th annual National Dump the Pump Day sponsored by the American Public Transportation Association, in partnership with the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Driving a bus never looked easy. Living in California and being stuck in my car as much as I am, I’ve always had tremendous respect for the men and women who operate buses on a daily basis. So, when the call came that I would get my shot to drive in Sunday’s APTA Bus Roadeo, I was both excited and nervous.