There are many careers within the transportation industry. Thomas O’Brien said he wants to help define them and make sure students to know about them.
He and others asked for and recently received $1 million from the Federal Highway Administration for the job.
“I think it’s important because the more we can define the multiple transportation pathways, the better we are at developing students for the careers out there,” O’Brien said. “There are plenty of opportunities out there.”
O’Brien is director of California State University, Long Beach’s Southwest Transportation Workforce Center (SWTWC) and executive director of its Center for International Trade and Transportation (CITT). He said the SWTWC partnered with four other regional transportation workforce centers in Montana, Vermont, Wisconsin and Tennessee, to form the National Network for the Transportation Workforce (NNTW). They applied for and received a two-year $1 million Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) grant last fall, called “Transportation Workforce Strategic Initiative” (TWSI).
O’Brien said they’re developing the pilot program to help define transportation career pathways in five disciplines: planning, engineering, environment, safety and operations, as well as occupations within those disciplines. The duration depends on the career pathway program’s success and available federal funding, he said.
Some of the many transportation careers include transportation planning, data management, civil engineering and more, O’Brien said.
“We’re trying to expand the range of options for students,” O’Brien said. “Ideally, the career pathway does this.”
As far as getting students jobs, “this is not necessarily about giving them an opportunity before they graduate.”
Rather, he said the program will focus on introducing students to people in various fields, and includes workshops, lessons and more. O’Brien said he’s working on creating partnerships nationwide at community colleges, technical schools and universities, as well as with stakeholders, to develop career pathways.
Technical occupations, such as diesel engine specialists, bus/truck driver and tractor-trailer drivers, will be identified, as well as four-year programs, such as urban/regional planners, information systems managers, surveyors, engineers and logisticians.
O’Brien said he hopes the pilot program will be available by September 2018.
Of course, CSULB’s proximity to the Port of Long Beach, along with other ports and transportation hubs, provides opportunity, O’Brien said.
And opportunities are becoming more available.
“As a country, we just voted to tax to expand the transit system,” O’Brien said. “All of those areas are jobs-rich… One thing I hope everyone can come together on is (the need for) transportation.”
Emily Thornton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.