Working Together: A Systems Approach for Transit Training

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​The transit industry is building effective labor-management partnerships to address its critical skills challenges resulting from changing technology, shifting workforce demographics and growing ridership. Led by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) and the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU), and with staff support from the Transportation Learning Center, transit systems and local unions – from ATU, Transport Workers Union (TWU), International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) and elsewhere – have been working together to develop a system of consensus training guidelines. The results are presented in this report.


​Transit faces a critical skills challenge driven by changing technologies, shifting workforce demographics and record-breaking growth in ridership.

Working Together: A Systems Approach for Transit Training outlines how constructive training partnerships provide the most effective way for the transit industry to address its skill challenges. National labor-management committees have met regularly for several years to develop consensus training guidelines. These joint committees have been focusing on five transit maintenance occupations: bus, rail signals, traction power, rail vehicles and elevator/escalator. A parallel joint effort has been crafting a national framework for transit apprenticeship.

Consensus national training guidelines make it possible for transit organizations and partnerships to assess the current skills of their workforce through a skills gap analysis. They can use the guidelines to conduct a training gap analysis that measures the quality of their current curriculum and training materials. After identifying current skills gaps and training gaps, the recommended guidelines can be used to create a customized training improvement plan. Among other applications, the training guidelines can be used for courseware mapping which can lead to courseware sharing among transit training programs.

Emerging from the work of these committees is a national system to support transit training partnerships. Local partnerships are possible between labor and management at a single location and regional training partnerships among transit systems and their training partnerships. When labor and management work together, they can create effective and sustainable systems of training. Regional training consortia are powerful tools to provide cost-effective and high-quality training to transit agencies.

Improving transit workforce skills through partnership-based, data-driven training yields very high rates of return on training investments. Labor and management, by working together, can solve the transit skills challenge and strengthen the entire industry.


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