Grants support community efforts to develop a transportation workforce for the future
Contact: Amy Bernstein
WASHINGTON – U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today announced that 17 organizations in 12 states will receive a share of $7 million from the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) Innovative Transit Workforce Development Program. The grants help local public transit agencies, institutions of higher education, nonprofit organizations, and Indian tribes train a future generation of transit professionals, with particular emphasis on promoting training opportunities in emerging technologies and encouraging young people to pursue careers in public transportation.
“A well-educated workforce is vital to ensuring that our nation’s economy continues to grow and that the transportation industry has qualified individuals to keep our transit systems competitive,” said Secretary LaHood. “This program provides training that reflects the Obama Administration’s commitment to helping Americans find good jobs.”
Secretary LaHood made today’s announcement at the Booker T. Washington Public Charter School for Technical Arts in Washington, D.C., where he highlighted a $795,334 workforce grant awarded to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA). This grant will be used to provide military veterans and high school students with skills training and assistance to help them transition into WMATA’s Bus Maintenance Apprenticeship programs. Participants will receive mechanical, electrical and electronics training to successfully join WMATA’s work force. LaHood was joined by FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray, and other local officials.
“The United States has invested billions of dollars to strengthen public transportation around the country in recent years,” said Administrator Rogoff. “Right here in D.C., this program will enable talented young adults and military veterans to seize the opportunity to learn new skills and embark on successful career building, managing, operating, and maintaining Metro and other growing transit systems.”
Other projects funded by the grants focus on helping transit workers master hybrid and electric vehicle technologies, intelligent transportation systems, and computer-aided dispatch systems. Many projects also reach out to underserved communities and showcase innovative methods for inspiring youths to pursue careers in public transportation. FTA received a total of 64 eligible applications seeking more than $30 million in funds for the FY 2012 program.
In FY 2011, FTA provided $3 million for 12 transit workforce training programs that are showing great promise. For example, through Denver Regional Transportation District’s “Workforce Initiative Now” program, roughly 280 college-aged teens and adults have been trained and/or hired to work on local transportation construction projects.
Under the new surface transportation law, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21), FTA is authorized to establish a competitive grant program to address the staffing needs of public transportation providers, advance maintenance-related training for alternative and energy-efficient vehicles and facilities, target areas with high rates of unemployment, and address current and projected workforce shortages in technical areas.