APTA | Passenger Transport
October 26, 2009

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Workforce Development: Building Transitís Workforce, 2010 and Beyond
BY JOE NIEGOSKI, APTA Director-Educational Services

Tomorrow’s executive leaders and managers need a portfolio of cutting-edge plans, state-of-the-art blueprints, and innovative best practices to hire and develop a world-class workforce for 2010 and beyond.

Recognizing these and other transit industry workforce needs and challenges, Beverly A. Scott, Ph.D., immediate past APTA chair, selected workforce development as one of her key initiatives during her term in office. She appointed Doran Barnes, APTA vice chair-human resources and executive director of Foothill Transit, West Covina, CA, as chair of a blue ribbon panel to oversee this effort.

APTA’s new chair, M.P. Carter, recognizing the work that lies ahead, has also made workforce development one of her initiatives for 2009-2010.

On Oct. 6 in Orlando, more than 120 people participated in what Barnes termed “a mini-conference within a conference” as he moderated a session titled “Workforce Development: Building Transit’s Workforce 2010 & Beyond—An Executive Leadership Round Table and Working Session.”

Mary Ann Collier, chair of the APTA Human Resources Committee; co-chair, Collaborations and Partnerships Working Group, blue ribbon panel; and director of human resources for the San Joaquin Regional Transit District in Stockton, CA, was the first presenter. She cited the year-long efforts of panel and advisory members and discussed topics such as accomplishments in proposed legislation, higher education programs, and current successes in youth outreach.

In particular, Collier recognized the success of the “9000 in ’09” youth outreach project, which reached more than 13,000 students, far exceeding the initial goal. She also focused on an upcoming industry survey on workforce metrics.

Ken Mall, managing director, workforce consulting, with Educational Data Systems Inc., shared the preliminary results of an APTA survey about industry training needs, which underscored the impact of baby boomer retirements. Transit agencies most often cited the need for supervisory training for managers at all levels, followed closely by coaching/mentoring, interpersonal communication, new technology, and safety. Business leaders identified supervisory and leadership skills, new technologies, and mechanics and maintenance training as their top three training priorities.

Tawnya Moore-McGee, vice chair of the APTA Human Resources Committee and assistant general manager, Human Resources Division, of Pittsburgh’s Port Authority of Allegheny County, provided success stories on how her organization is using many social media tools and resources to recruit the next generation.

Bertrand Barthélemy, training director for Veolia Transport, Campus Veolia Environnement, in Paris, France, spoke about how co-investing in human resources development and training through public-private partnerships can help overcome workforce challenges. “Our experience over five continents has shown us that employee development is an investment, rather than a cost,” he said.

He stated that everyone at all levels in his organization participates in training, and that the training program goal is mastery of skills, which in turn will build capacity over time.

Enrique Washington, partner, Generator Group LLC, provided preliminary findings of current Transit Cooperative Research Program research to help identify and understand trends and best practices that will be published in a guide for recruiting minority chief executive officers in public transportation. Washington highlighted research that examines a range of organizations in both the private and public sectors to provide transit properties with a foundation for successfully identifying, recruiting, and retaining minority CEOs.

Roundtable Discussions
During the second half of the session, attendees joined several topic tables for discussions on the findings and recommendations of the various blue ribbon panel working groups (which are shown in parentheses).

Dr. Jill Hough, program director, Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute, Small Urban and Rural Transit Center, North Dakota State University (Higher Education), and Robert Prince, vice president and industry liaison, AECOM (Collaborations and Partnerships), co-facilitated conversations on opportunities for higher education and industry partnerships, curricula development, and industry research.

Aida Berduo Douglas, business development manager/DBE officer, Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Austin, TX (Youth Outreach), co-facilitated a group with Stephanie Pinson, president and chief operating officer, Gilbert Tweed Associates (Industry Image). Douglas highlighted a proposed pilot toolkit to be used by teachers and school systems to begin educating youth about the industry’s career possibilities. Pinson addressed ways to improve the image of public transportation as a career, promote green sector jobs, and making the business case for workforce development.

Dr. Stephen Van Beek, president, Eno Transportation Foundation, and Brian Turner, director, Transportation Learning Center (co-chairs, Metrics and ROI), provided highlights of their working group and discussed a forthcoming survey and research to establish an industry-developed model that measures the ROI on workforce development and training.

Leadership APTA graduates from the Class of 2009 conducted roundtable discussions on Executive Development and Net Generation Ridership projects. Dr. Dianne Mendoza, vice president, business and community development, Capital Metro, and Curvie Hawkins, director of planning, Fort Worth Transportation Authority, respectively, led these discussions.

On the subject of both overseas and domestic programs, Cheryl deHoog, director, organizational development and training, Veolia Transportation North America, and Benjamin Koskas, international training project manager, Veolia Transport, Campus Veolia Environnement, Paris, France, offered insights into organizational investments in human capital development.

Rounding out the sessions, Elaine Lees, partner and vice president, talent management, Generator Group, focused on the role of talent acquisition for the 21st century, explaining how integrated management can optimize acquisition and other workforce development initiatives.

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