Dr. Ruth Steiner, a professor in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Florida, is leading a STRIDE-funded project that aims to understand the workforce development needs for transportation professionals in the Southeastern U.S. as it relates to congestion mitigation.
Project C4 (Transportation Workforce Development for State DOTs to Address Congestion for the Southeast Region) includes researchers from five other universities associated with the STRIDE consortium such as Florida International University, North Carolina State University, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, The Citadel, and Tennessee Technological University.
This project responds to changes in the transportation sector and its workforce. Certain sectors, such as trucking, logistics, public transit, and construction have difficulty filling the positions as the workforce transitions from Baby Boomers to Millennials. State departments of transportation and other public sector employers have difficulty attracting and keeping workers who can keep up with changes in technology, including apps, electric vehicles, and autonomous and connected vehicles. Transportation organizations in both the private and public sector need to attract a diverse workforce that includes people of all races, ethnicities, and genders and people with special life experiences including ex-military and encore careerists to fill the wide variety of new jobs in the transportation sector of the future.
To address the increasing congestion in the Southeastern U.S., qualified and trained staff with the required knowledge, skills, and abilities are needed. However, if the transportation workforce is not built and maintained, transportation professionals will not be able to effectively plan, design, manage, and operate an efficient multimodal transportation network to mitigate congestion. If we don’t have a trained transportation professionals, the highway, transit and freight movement systems will not operate efficiently and effectively to keep our nation’s economy moving.
To ameliorate these shortages, Dr. Steiner and her team of researchers will develop a framework for training and education to support the diverse workforce development needs of the transportation sector in the Southeastern U.S. The project will identify current and future needs and define the roles of the UTCs, universities, and community colleges in the region in training and education activities.
“STRIDE researchers will have additional information about how to think about workforce development and tech transfer,” Steiner said. “Practitioners and industry will benefit from STRIDE faculty sharing the knowledge and expertise developed through projects with them. STRIDE researchers will develop other ways to share their knowledge and expertise with the profession.”