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APTA 2022 Emerging Leaders Program Capstone: Replenishing the Workforce Through Innovative Methods

APTA Class of 2022 Emerging Leader and Kimley-Horn engineer Jeff La Hood, P.E., joins with four of his APTA classmates as they present their capstone on replenishing the public transportation workforce through innovative methods.

Every year, the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) selects 35 individuals from around the country who represent the industry’s rich diversity to its Emerging Leaders Program (ELP). As a final assignment, students must collaborate in small groups and present a joint capstone project that focuses on various topics of significance within the transportation and transit industry.

Jeff La Hood, P.E., and his group presented to the APTA Workforce Development Committee on March 1, 2022, during the 2022 APTA Mobility Conference in Columbus. The group also spoke on April 11, 2022, at the virtual Class of 2022 Capstone Projects Webinar Series hosted by APTA. During their presentation, they addressed sources of the dwindling public transportation workforce and proposed approaches that the industry might take to combat the issue.

Key takeaways from La Hood and his group include:

Focusing on Strengths: Continue rewarding prospective operators with sign-on bonuses and retention bonuses for existing staff, recruiting new talent from diverse places, and assisting operators to earn necessary certifications

Combating Weaknesses: Establish long-term funding for the industry through local, regional, state, federal, and international legislation, as well as competitive starting salaries and higher administrative wages, clarify promotional success paths for potential candidates, and provide programs in which they might grow their talents and skills

Applying the Four Rs: Reimagine operator training to fulfill future service requirements, realign marketing and recruiting efforts to target the evolving job market as well as long-term goals for the current workforce, reroute career paths by demonstrating the need for a diversity of degrees and skillsets, and reaffirm the success of recruiting investments through higher retention rates

Thinking Outside the Box: Build relationships with local childcare facilities to allow employed young and single parents more flexibility during working hours, offer paid internships and tuition assistance opportunities to college students in exchange for a post-graduation position in the industry, and hire from untapped community workforces such as those with criminal records and those exiting foster care

Telling the Story: Spotlight the ways in which transit affects interdisciplinary aspects of a community, illuminate the connection between transit as a job and transit as a career path, and accentuate the vastness of the transit industry to encompass all degree levels from trade school to doctorate

Listen to the webinar here to learn more about the current situation in the transportation workforce, the reasons behind the employee shortage, and the steps that might be taken to benefit the industry and its various communities.

About the Expert

Jeff La Hood, P.E.

Jeff La Hood, P.E.

Jeff has more than seven years of experience providing engineering services on a variety of transportation projects that include light rail transit (LRT), bus rapid transit (BRT), bus transfer facilities, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) design, and much more. He most recently led the design of the Temporary Transfer Facility for Greater Richmond Transit Company (GRTC) in Richmond, VA.


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