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American Public Transportation Association

  Blue Ribbon Panel on Workforce Development

Public transportation workers at work.

Attracting, developing and retaining a diverse workforce is key to our industry's continuing success. In recognition of this need, Dr. Beverly A. Scott, APTA Chair 2008-2009, identified workforce development as one of her priorities.

Members of the Blue Ribbon Panel.

The importance of public transportation’s future workforce was highlighted in APTA's TransitVision 2050 report, approved in October 2008. It was a prime opportunity to review and address current and future workforce development in our industry.

To facilitate this process, Dr. Scott established a one-year, blue ribbon panel on workforce development, representing the public and private sectors of the industry, key stakeholders and partners, including labor, academia, and the next generation of leaders in APTA.

The panel, with a wide array of experience and expertise, was charged with

  • Reviewing the research and recommendations of the earlier workforce development initiative;
  • Identifying gaps, new opportunities, programs and services geared to helping to create and sustain a stronger, vibrant, and efficient and effective workforce; and
  • Defining APTA's role in providing ongoing support to members and the industry on these issues.

The blue ribbon panel developed immediate, short-term, mid-term and longer term (five years and beyond) action plans. The unified multi-year work program was presented to the APTA Executive Committee in October 2009.

Focus Areas of the Blue Ribbon Panel

The blue ribbon panel developed a series of 32 recommendations organized under six focus areas:

Workers look at a 3-D model of a public transit system.
  • Legislative Issues: the need to focus on advancing APTA's authorization recommendations and other legislative proposals for funding to promote the development of a skilled industry workforce.
  • Image and Branding: the need for a targeted campaign to improve the image of public transportation as a career; promote "green jobs; and "sell" our industry by creating messages that reach new generations and talent pools by using social media tools and other technologies.
  • Higher Education: the need to focus on a variety of post-secondary educational options, including the role of universities, transportation research centers, community colleges and technical schools, in providing the pipeline for public transportation careers, and how best to leverage opportunities for development of core curricula in universities and community colleges.
  • Youth Outreach and Awareness: the need to address how best to prepare the next generation of leaders within the public transportation industry, e.g. developing key programs, activities and partnerships for grades K – 12.
  • Partnerships and Collaborations: the need to focus on how to enhance training and educational opportunities for the current and future workforce, through diverse, collaborative partnerships, i.e. labor-management; regional training consortiums; and opportunities for public and private partnerships on workforce development, etc.
  • Performance Metrics/Return on investment (ROI): the need to establish an industry-developed model that measures the ROI on workforce development, training, etc., and a regular benchmarking program. The working group established three primary objectives: Communicate the successes of existing programs; develop recommendations that use performance metrics and benchmarking to measure the effectiveness and improve public transit workforce development programs; and  collaborate with the other working groups to develop performance metrics for all focus areas defined by the blue ribbon panel.

Download the Report

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