Rutgers’ John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development and the Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation (CAIT) will lead a national “Transit Virtual Career Network” (TVCN) to provide up-to-date information on jobs, career paths, and education in the transit industry. The Internet resource will help the nation’s public transportation operators prepare and attract the skilled workforce needed to operate and maintain a 21st-century system.

TVCN will be funded with a $650,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) Innovative Transit Workforce Development Program. The network’s website will be launched in 2015.

“Transit employers have been concerned about skilled worker shortages as more workers reach retirement age, technology and consumer demands change, and demand for transit services increases,” said Jennifer Cleary, senior project manager at the Heldrich Center. “This project will allow the partners to leverage past efforts and federal government investments in a cost-effective way that meets the needs of transit industry employers and potential employees.”

The American Association of Community Colleges, the XPand Corp., and the National Association of Workforce Boards, also Rutgers’ partners in this effort, will lead the technical development of the TVCN and assist with dissemination. The new website will also build upon and leverage previous major federal investments in technical and design features, including a $6.6 million U.S. Department of Labor grant that funded a similar website for the health care industry. It will also incorporate a dynamic e-learning platform created through a nearly $30 million U.S. Department of Energy investment.

The Heldrich Center’s prior FTA-funded research on transit careers resulted in online guides that job-seekers, students, counselors and industry professionals may find helpful in exploring transit careers while the virtual network is under development. The guides may be found at www.heldrich.rutgers.edu/projects/all-projects/inventory-and-assessment-public-transportation-workforce-needs.

The new online resource will include content on transit careers created by the Heldrich Center under a $600,000 FTA grant awarded to Rutgers’ National Transit Institute in 2009. The Heldrich Center and CAIT, a designated DOT Research and Innovation Technology Administration Tier I University Transportation Center, will work with the American Public Transportation Association and its member agencies to lead the development of the virtual career network.

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