'Going to School' to Cultivate the Next Generation of Transit Employees

Posted on March 26, 2019 by Heather Redfern - Also by this author

Jennifer Thompkins, Assistant Director of Youth Programs for TriZen, LLC and SEPTA’s Dan Amspacher presenting to Samuel Fels High School students in the classroom. Photo: SEPTA
Jennifer Thompkins, Assistant Director of Youth Programs for TriZen, LLC and SEPTA’s Dan Amspacher presenting to Samuel Fels High School students in the classroom. Photo: SEPTA
Each year, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) honors its retirees from the previous fiscal year with an awards luncheon. In 2016, there was a record 367 honorees. In 2018, the Authority recognized 344 retirees — 19 with at least 40 years of service with the Authority. One of those honorees had 45 years of service at SEPTA.

Replacing experienced, long-tenured employees — especially those in the skilled trades — is an issue SEPTA shares with industries across the country. To help mitigate the effects of a potential workforce shortage, SEPTA is taking its recruitment efforts to the next generation, reaching out to students about careers in transportation.

“Being an operator, engineer or a crew member is a terrific job,” said Dan Amspacher, SEPTA’s Director of Strategic Initiatives. “There are so many positions within our organization that a lot of people don’t realize exist. We want to let students know that there are many career options within our industry — something for everyone’s talents.”

Participation in career fairs and school career days has helped SEPTA introduce its many job possibilities to thousands of students in the Greater Philadelphia region.  A special relationship with a Philadelphia public high school could “drive” potential future employees in the Authority’s direction.  

Students touring SEPTA’s Control Center. Photo: SEPTA
Students touring SEPTA’s Control Center. Photo: SEPTA
In January 2018, SEPTA kicked off its partnership with Samuel Fels High School at an assembly where authority employees shared information on the numerous careers SEPTA offers, internship opportunities and their personal career paths to 350 9th and 10th grade students.

Over the past year, SEPTA has adopted Fels, interacting with more than 400 students by holding work readiness workshops and hosting students for a day-long tour at the SEPTA Headquarters. SEPTA’s partnership with Fels comes through the Adopt-A-School Program, an initiative designed by the Urban League of Philadelphia and TriZen LLC, to create partnerships between companies and GEAR UP Philadelphia high schools.

“The goal of the Adopt-A-School Program is to foster an environment of academic achievement and post-secondary education, while creating potential pipelines to future employment,” said Jennifer Thompkins, Assistant Director of Youth Programs for TriZen, LLC. “The program is now in its third year and is targeting the classes of 2020 and 2021.

This year, SEPTA is working with 11th grade students on their career plans and preparing them for summer internships through workshops held at their high school. In a recent session, Amspacher, and Thompkins introduced students to the various types of post-secondary institutions and discussed characteristics students should consider when researching schools.

“We want students to start thinking about the next steps they need to take to reach their career goals,” said Thompkins. “This includes understanding various types of financial aid, taking college tours and registering for summer internships.”

Samuel Fels High School logo. Photo: SEPTA
Samuel Fels High School logo. Photo: SEPTA
 Six-week paid summer internships are offered by employers registered with the Urban League of Philadelphia/TriZen LLC program.

“The internships can help students find something they are passionate about,” added Thompkins.

In addition to SEPTA, some of the Greater Philadelphia’s biggest employers participate in the Adopt-A-School program, including Comcast, AmeriHealth Caritas, Independence Blue Cross, iHeartMedia, Philadelphia Gas Works, TD Bank and UPS.

Heather Redfern is the Public Information Manager for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority. 






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

More Transit Dispatches Blog Posts

June 19, 2019

Why employers should care about the length of employees’ commutes

Employers are beginning to take notice of the psychological and physical well-being of their employees by looking for ways to combat the the toll of long work commutes. 

June 12, 2019

Will AVs save the world? History says it's no sure thing

Electric AVs will clear streets of the traffic jams and pollution and save lives, curing the ills wrought by private autos, right?

June 4, 2019

High school intern today…transportation employee tomorrow?

Internship programs that provide real-world learning and hands-on training can be beneficial employment recruitment tools for the organizations that extend them and the participating students.

May 30, 2019

State, local leaders not waiting on Congress for infrastructure bill

In many states, collaborative initiatives have been launched to repair aging infrastructure, install clean energy projects, initiate smart city technology and build social infrastructure.

May 30, 2019

Customer Satisfaction Will Always Motivate Consumer's Mobility Choices

New mobility modes will continue to be introduced and tested, old modes will be updated and improvised, and some modes will become extinct.

See More

Post a Comment

Post Comment

Comments (0)

More From The World's Largest Fleet Publisher

Automotive Fleet

The Car and truck fleet and leasing management magazine

Business Fleet

managing 10-50 company vehicles

Fleet Financials

Executive vehicle management

Government Fleet

managing public sector vehicles & equipment



Work Truck Magazine

The number 1 resource for vocational truck fleets

Schoolbus Fleet

Serving school transportation professionals in the U.S. and Canada

LCT Magazine

Global Resource For Limousine and Bus Transportation