May 11, 2009
|APTA BUS & PARATRANSIT CONFERENCE COVERAGE
ĎA Marathon, Not a Short-Term Eventí
Terming APTA Chair Beverly A. Scott’s workforce development initiative “a marathon, not a short-term event,” Mary Ann Collier, a member of the Blue Ribbon Panel on Workforce Development, provided an overview of the panel’s plans for the short, medium, and long term at a May 4 session.
Collier, chair of the APTA Human Resources Committee, explained that the workforce development program will fit into the strategy put forth in the TransitVision 2050 initiative by “connecting the dots to see what’s going on.” She broke down the effort into four time frames: immediate, 30 to 100 days from now; short term, 18 months to three years; mid-term, three to five years; and long term, five to 10 years.
“Following the endorsement of the proposed plan, we can begin to change the future of the industry,” Collier continued. “We will define and clarify APTA’s workforce development role for the future—but to succeed, we need continuity.”
Brian J. Turner, director of the Transportation Learning Center, offered perspective by reporting on his organization’s work with similar efforts for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority in Philadelphia and in New York State, said: “If we’re going to make workforce development efforts thrive, we will need labor and management to work together.”
Other major concerns of this model, according to Turner, are ensuring that classroom and hands-on education programs work together for mutual benefit, and creating a well-structured form of mentoring for transit employees.
Chun Dong, senior program manager with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), discussed the leadership program begun by the agency as a pilot in 2000. The program was given to WMATA superintendents in 2002, to transit police in 2004, and revised into the four-phase Senior Leadership Development Program in 2008.
“Through complete commitment, you can make your dreams a reality,” Dong said, noting that the program’s success included the support of other WMATA employees and the general manager, John Catoe Jr. The session also heard from two program participants.
Ken Mall, business unit leader-technical for Educational Data Systems Inc., talked about the importance of retaining institutional knowledge when older employees retire or leave the organization. Listing such diagnostic tools as the Skills Gap Analysis (to determine an organization’s and its employees’ strengths and weaknesses) and the Knowledge Loss Risk Assessment (to study how to keep knowledge within an organization), Mall said that the key is to help transit agencies build “bench strength” so they will always have employees with the necessary knowledge and background.