Spotlight on TWC at the 2022 APTA Rail Conference
Posted June 2022
Building the Future Workforce Pipeline Panel Presentation at APTA Rail 2022
The 2022 APTA Rail Conference, held in San Diego from June 5 to 8, featured a number of events spotlighting the technical assistance work of the Transit Workforce Center (TWC), operated by the International Transportation Learning Center (ITLC). First, Representing the TWC, Deputy Director Xinge Wang joined a panel of diverse speakers in a powerful and inspiring set of presentations and exchanges with the audience, focusing on Building the Future Workforce Pipeline - Successful Programs Targeting Those Less Served. The topics included:
- Inspiring and developing our future workforce: Providing summer opportunities for hundreds of Chicago’s young people to grow, develop, and contribute to our industry from Ms. Geisha Ester and Dr. Bria Hoosier, Chicago Transit Authority
- Lifting up the underserved: Reaching high school students from underrepresented communities, educating them on STEM-based careers and beyond from Ms. Kimberly Feldbauer, AECOM
- Attracting and retaining a young and diverse workforce: With equity at the forefront, engaging youth from marginalized populations to help our industry achieve a diverse, equitable, and sustainable future from Dr. Karen Philbrick (Mineta Institute) and Ms. Melissa Figueroa (CA HSR Authority)
- Apprenticeship programs moving to the forefront: Building skills, opening up opportunities, creating pathways to growing careers and communities from Ms. Xinge Wang (ITLC)
FTA Workforce Panel at APTA Rail 2022: Liz Smith, George Fields, Veronica Vanterpool, Xinge Wang, and Mary Leary (left to right)
The second event was kicked off by APTA Chair Jeff Nelson and moderated by FTA Deputy Administrator Veronica Vanterpool. The panel discussion started with Mary Leary, FTA Deputy Associate Administrator, TRI, introducing the newly created TWC and its goals, followed by Ms. Wang parsing out the current challenges and opportunities in developing the transit industry workforce and how the TWC is addressing them. Ms. Wang especially emphasized how women and minorities continue to be disproportionately underrepresented in higher-skilled, higher-paid transit jobs, especially among the technician ranks. Women represent 1% of all bus and truck mechanics and 2% of rail car repairers, whereas 41% of bus operators are women. Among racial representation, 27% and 29% of bus mechanics and rail technicians, respectively, are people of color; for bus operators, 58% are people of color. “There is a lot of potential to tap into the existing workforce and the community for talents among these underrepresented groups. And that is especially important in a tight labor market we are experiencing now. We need effective outreach into targeted communities that transit serves to draw on those talents and make them succeed through pre-apprenticeship, apprenticeship and ongoing mentorship and coaching,” Ms. Wang said.
Two leaders from transit agencies, George Fields, Deputy GM of Human Resources, Greater Cleveland Regional Transportation Authority and Liz Smith, Chief of Staff, Southeast Pennsylvania Transportation Authority then highlighted the effective partnerships with labor, community colleges and other key stakeholders and tools to support their workforce.