Keeping the transit jobs pipeline flowing

Posted on January 23, 2014 by Heather Redfern - Also by this author

Jim Barnshaw, a former mechanic, electrician, foreman and rail shop director at SEPTA, speaks to students at Philadelphia’s Mastbaum Vocational High School about jobs at the agency.
Jim Barnshaw, a former mechanic, electrician, foreman and rail shop director at SEPTA, speaks to students at Philadelphia’s Mastbaum Vocational High School about jobs at the agency.

Jobs in the transportation industry can be highly specialized, requiring employees to have very specific training and numerous certifications. How can transit organizations ensure that the workers they are hiring are well-prepared for open positions? Why not partner with technical schools to collaborate on curriculum and create a pipeline of qualified job candidates?

For years, Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) has collaborated with adult education institutions in the agency’s service area to help produce graduates that are not only ready to join the workforce in entry level positions, but are prepared for long, successful careers in their fields of choice. From campus recruitment visits to pre-employment testing and mentoring, SEPTA's aggressive education outreach efforts are designed to make it an "employer of choice" for qualified students.

RELATED: "Workforce Development: Who Will Run Transit Tomorrow?"

A key aspect of SEPTA's recruitment initiatives is curriculum review.

"We share students' pre-employment test results with schools so that the instructors can make adjustments to their coursework that will better prepare students," said Dan Dandrea, SEPTA's manager of recruitment. "We are also constantly reviewing curricula for new schools and programs to determine if coursework is relevant to our hiring needs."

Currently, SEPTA representatives serve on the curriculum advisory boards of eight adult education institutions.

SEPTA's efforts have been a success. “Our representation on the curriculum advisory boards has produced changes to the coursework at many of the schools, making the students’ skill sets more relevant for SEPTA’s entry level technical positions,” said Dandrea. “This has resulted in a significant benefit to our workforce, as in the past two years almost 90 technical school graduates have joined the authority as third class bus mechanics, signal trainees and power department trainees.”

The positive results are due to the commitment of SEPTA employee Jim Barnshaw. A former mechanic, electrician, foreman and rail shop director, Barnshaw works with approximately 50 trade schools, coordinating training and education programs that help “steer” students toward their goals of careers in mechanical fields.

“Jim’s experience in our shops has been invaluable to our recruitment endeavors,” said Dandrea. “He understands the expertise our employees need, not only to obtain jobs, but also to advance in their positions at SEPTA.” Barnshaw’s work has earned him industry recognition.

In addition to prepping post-secondary students, SEPTA has an internship program for Philadelphia high school students who are enrolled in mechanical or electrical programs.

“Each summer, we hire 10 to 15 students to work with our rail and bus mechanics and electricians,” said Dandrea. “By mentoring and training students before they graduate from high school, we are putting them on track for long-term career success, hopefully at SEPTA.”


Looking for a job in transit or interested in posting a job, visit METRO's Transit Job Finder.

In case you missed it...

Read our METRO blog, "How safety programs can help transit meet budget challenges"

View comments or post a comment on this story. (0 Comments)

More Transit Dispatches Blog Posts

March 24, 2015

Therapy Dogs are 'Well-Prepared' Passengers on Transit

Seeing a canine passenger on mass transit is not uncommon, but the reasons why a dog might catch the train or hop a bus are varied (remember Eclipse, the Seattle Lab mix that uses the bus, often on her own, to get to the dog park?). Most public transit pooches are working —as K-9 officers or service animals. In the Philadelphia region, other animals — in approved carriers only—are permitted to ride the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority’s buses, trains and trolleys. However, a new pilot program underway by SEPTA allows registered therapy dogs volunteering at two Philadelphia hospitals to use two designated bus routes to travel to their sites.

March 24, 2015

Infrastructure Money Tight? Do Better Bus Marketing

To be sure, there is no substitute for offering high-quality bus or rail transit service, but many transit agencies skimp when it comes to marketing, outreach, and education and, as a result, the public often has no idea how good the service may actually be. Buses also have an image problem in many communities, which proper marketing could help address. Witness the huge sums spent by automakers in crafting the image of their automobiles.

March 10, 2015

Could Technology Allow Uber to Displace Public Transportation?

The Uber website proudly states that, “Uber is evolving the way the world moves. By seamlessly connecting riders to drivers through our apps, we make cities more accessible, opening up more possibilities for riders and more business for drivers. From our founding in 2009 to our launches in over 200 cities today, Uber's rapidly expanding global presence continues to bring people and their cities closer.” Such hype is common on corporate websites, but when the braggadocio is backed up by an article in the Wall Street Journal that discloses a valuation of $41 billion their ambitious words take on relevance.

February 6, 2015

Technology and Transportation: Change at High Speed

As the world changes with the rapid advancement of connected devices and technologies, so must the transportation industry. In a business area where change is sluggish, DOTs across the country must adapt quickly to the evolving technologies that are going to impact their operations and budget. There are at least three technologies that will have immense impact over the next two decades on how we travel and how state transportation departments react to provide mobility — connectedness, big data and automation.

January 26, 2015

Tapping Transit Hubs as Inspirational Art Spaces

Around the world, artwork of all forms adorns transportation centers, stations and bus shelters. While many of these statues, paintings, mosaics and sculptures are permanently installed as part of a station’s architecture, transportation organizations can use their spaces for art exhibitions that not only make transit hubs more aesthetically pleasing for commuters, but also inspire budding artists. The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) recently partnered with two organizations to showcase the artistic talent of youth from the Greater Philadelphia region and around the world. 

See More

Post a Comment

Post Comment

Comments (0)

Please sign in or register to .    Close