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  • Writer's pictureMaureen Galkin

Making Connections

2022 National Transit Workforce Conference Recap

The last few years have posed interesting challenges for public transportation, including a workforce shortage that continues to plague the industry. At this year’s National Transit Workforce Conference, I watched as innovators, go-getters and leaders in public transportation came together to make connections and share their strategies for mitigating the effects of this shortage.

As a senior account manager at Hunter, I was one of many stakeholders in attendance, joining the conversation with like-minded professionals who share our commitment to moving transportation — and people — forward.

Addressing the public transportation workforce shortage

With so many great minds in one place, I witnessed an abundance of thoughtful and creative solutions to address this shared challenge. From Indiana to New Jersey, transit authorities are rethinking how they recruit and how they ensure successful training in the current climate.

Building a robust apprenticeship program

One of the common threads throughout the conference was investment in apprenticeship programs. Many local transit authorities shared their successes and strategies for continuing to grow these programs by getting into high schools earlier. Some discussion even suggested partnering as early as middle school to get young people thinking about what a career in transportation could look like for them.

Investing in online training

In an increasingly digital world, it’s no surprise that online learning is becoming more common. By taking advantage of online training, transit authorities are lowering the barrier for entry into a career in transit.

I found it fascinating to see how virtual and VR systems are being implemented across the U.S. to train future transit employees. For example, in Santa Clara, the local transit authority’s training uses VR goggles. A teacher sits at a computer and sees what operators are experiencing behind the headset, providing them with information, suggestions and training remotely.

The potential for online training is only growing. And maybe someday VR training could inspire young students to choose a career in public transportation.

Finding new talent pools

Multiple transit authorities discussed the need to find new talent pools of quality applicants. One solution I found particularly interesting and impactful was a transit authority who partnered with the local prison system to recruit and train viable candidates and implement pre-training and employment programs.

The partnership does more than fuel local transit — it sets up incarcerated persons for success upon leaving the prison system with a salary, benefits and a career that they can build upon for a lifetime.

Together, we move people forward.

My attendance at the 2022 National Transit Workforce Conference confirmed what we at Hunter Marketing already knew: when we work together, we are more nimble, innovative and primed to serve our communities. The challenge of recruitment is one that all stakeholders in public transportation share and when we work alongside each other and communicate our successes — and our failures — we can create stronger solutions that drive people where they need to go. Together, we move people forward.

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