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Defining the Future Transportation Workforce

Often, I get the sense that the general public doesn’t quite understand the connection transportation has with STEM and future career opportunities. A recent (and familiar) example is a parent who heard about the concept of the transportation workforce and said: “With no disrespect to bus drivers, but I don’t want my child to become a bus driver." We haven’t done a great job of reaching out to our communities to inform them of the plethora of potential careers and jobs to be found in transportation, in general, but TSMO more specifically. To me, TSMO is especially easy to communicate to the potential workforce: TSMO requires a variety of potential educational backgrounds and is focused on delivering quality experiences for the traveling public. Who wouldn’t want to work to keep our transportation system moving while saving lives, time, and money in the process?

One tool to educate students and the public can be found through the Southeast Workforce Center, led by Dr. Stephanie Ivey, part of the National Network for Transportation Workforce. They have an open call for people to submit their portfolios on how they got involved in transportation operations in order to educate others how to seek transportation careers. The process is simple and I encourage those of you that manage non-engineers to also submit as we are looking to show the breath of people that work in TSMO.

NOCoE is promoting the transportation workforce and TSMO on multiple fronts, including by bringing more awareness of TSMO to students through our Transportation Technology Tournament, as well as with peer exchanges and webinars (coming in May 2018) focused on communicating TSMO, both externally and internally.

The effort to educate the public about TSMO requires a multi-level approach, from educating parents and students about future transportation workforce needs, to informing the STEM community on the wide variety of backgrounds necessary to run a transportation system, to educating the general public on the benefits of TSMO. We’re just at the beginning of our mission, but thanks to the efforts of the National Network for Transportation Workforce and many other groups, I’m optimistic we’ll get the transportation workforce we need for the next fifty years.

More from the January 30 newsletter is available here.