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Our Critical Workforce Challenge

The Case for a National Strategy

Inside of an airplane control tower at night.

  • The nation's economy is fundamentally dependent on transporting people and goods
  • The national transportation system relies on a highly skilled and qualified workforce
  • Many current jobs already affected and many new jobs could be created
  • Rapid changes in transportation industry and needed skills due to:
    • Increasing demand to match population growth and demographic shifts,
    • Accelerationg competition for employees from other industries,
    • Growing difficulty in
      • finding qualified employees to fill priority occupations; and
      • reaching and appealing to women and under-represented populations
  • Through a coordinated, national, cross-modal approach we can:
    • address common workforce challenges,
    • conserve scarce resources while addressing unmet workforce needs,
    • implement innovative ideas faster, and
    • boost transportation's contribution to creating new jobs
  • Pursuing common interests nationally could lead to significant gains in:
    • Improving quality, skills, and competencies of transportaion workforce;
    • Increasing participation of women and under-represented groups in transportation workforce;
    • Enhancing career pathways and ladders to transportation industry for new entrants and current employees; and
    • Creating greater visibility of and potential resources available for transportation workforce development

Principles for Success

1. For this workforce initiative:

A series of three photographs:  young man at a an intermodal terminal; airport ground employee directing a jet; young woman reading a book.

  • Commit to collaborative partnerships: the workforce development initiative is partner-based at its core bringing together key actors to exchange ideas and solutions to create a unified, strongly and widely supported strategy.
  • Support active sharing: the workforce development initiative should encourage active and open sharing of ideas from all partners.
  • Attend to accountability and evaluation: the workforce development initiative strives to be accountable for its results. Performance measures and indicators will allow progress to be evaluated over time.

2. For the national strategy to develop the transportation workforce

  • Be data-informed: a national strategy should be informed by data that supports recommendations and actions.
  • Multi-modal: the national strategy will ensure all components of the transportation industry are addressed.
  • Support USDOT's strategic goals: the national transportation workforce strategy is aligned with USDOT's strategic goals.
  • Be self-sustaining: transportation workforce development should become an ongoing endeavor with processes put in place to ensure continuous attention.
  • Anticipate: the national strategy will adapt to future conditions and remain relevant over time by anticipating critical trends and responding to change.
  • Cover many career pathways: the national strategy addresses the needs of all occupational lifecycle stages.

3. For the transportation workforce

  • Seek diversity and inclusiveness: the future transportation workforce should be inclusive and reflect the changing demographics of the nation by promoting opportunities to underrepresented groups; it should include alternative pathways to employment as well as apprenticeships, trade and craft programs, and certificate programs.
  • Promote a multi-occupational approach: the workforce strategy acknowledges the diversity of occupations that comprise the transportation industry — operators (such as truck and bus drivers to pilots and air traffic controllers), maintainers (such as diesel and aviation mechanics), safety specialists (such as inspectors, flight attendants), customer service specialists (such as ticket/freight sales, web and information technicians), planners, engineers, managers and executives.
  • Provide individual opportunity: transportation employers emphasize opportunities for growth and creativity, so that prospective workers view transportation as an empowering and rewarding career.
  • Promote innovation: the transportation employers incorporate innovation into the workplace culture and adopt proper actions to encourage fresh ideas. The future workforce views innovation as a primary objective at all levels.