Mineta Institute studies Calif. high-speed rail

Posted on March 15, 2012

The Mineta Transportation Institute published "Estimating Workforce Development Needs for High-Speed Rail in California," a report assessing the overall employment, education, and training needs associated with building and operating the California high-speed rail (CHSR) network. The report also seeks to develop insight into how these challenges can be addressed by all levels of the California education system.

The report addresses four specific questions:

  • What types of workers will the CHSR network require at various phases of the project's life over the next 15 years?
  • How many of each type of employee are needed over the life of the project, and how do those estimates change over the life of the project?
  • What specific skills and knowledge does the CHSR workforce require?
  • What is the existing capacity for training and educating this workforce, and how must it adapt to the challenges posed at each stage of the CHSR?

The comprehensive document notes that workforce development is intrinsically tied to the CHSR network build primarily because of the initial reasoning behind developing the network. The system was proposed in part, according to the report, because it has the capacity to jump-start the California economy "insomuch as it buttresses the construction workforce with procurement bids." It also will inevitably have direct impact on industries outside of construction, including those associated with the design, operation and maintenance of the network, through the infusion of technology into the system.

The report also includes sections on estimates of workforce and employment development needs and an assessment of existing capacity for HSR workforce development. These sections delve into several key factors, including critical issues of HSR technology; an employee estimates summary; education impacts by phase; workforce development needs during the peak phase; the capacity of community colleges, trades training, and higher education; the interplay of university and industry; the possible means of achieving workforce goals; and several other factors.

The majority of the employment estimates use "personnel years," — similar to using "labor hours" to estimate a project — which is the most accurate way to estimate workforce needs. This is standard industry practice because it enables the most precise calculation of the amount of labor necessary to complete a given project.

The complete 160-page report includes 30 figures and 28 tables that illustrate key issues and findings. It is available for free PDF download here.


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