New transportation technologies are creating connective networks that merge the physical and digital worlds of transportation. The pace at which these technologies are evolving is creating workforce challenges for the transportation industry seeking to deploy, operate, and maintain these technologies. These include but are not limited to the technologies related to the deployment of connected and autonomous vehicles, mobility-at-a-service, and new mobility devices.
Technological advancements in transportation require appropriate expertise to plan and deploy during all phases of the transportation infrastructure and service delivery process. While transportation agencies are increasingly sophisticated in the deployment of information technology (IT) and intelligent transportation systems (ITS), the pace of change and the complexity of new mobility systems require novel expertise to the industry that challenges the capability of today’s transportation workforce. While some transportation agencies are fairly advanced in their workforce capabilities, others find themselves with limited expertise and seeking to build internal competencies to respond adequately to market trends.
While considerable research has been completed on workforce challenges and development in transportation, targeted research is needed to build the workforce capacity to develop, operate, and maintain new transportation technologies.
The objective of this research is to develop a comprehensive, practical guide for transportation agency recruitment, hiring, development, and retention of a workforce proficient in developing and deploying complex transportation technology and systems. The guide should address short-term and long-term strategies for workforce development, including consideration of how and when to outsource in addition to or in place of building capacity internally.
The guide should address the full spectrum of milestones involved in human resource development at a transportation agency, such as:
Creating position descriptions;
Developing and implementing training programs; and
Developing staff recruitment and retention programs that respond to technology deployment needs.
The guide should include one or more decision frameworks for integrating needed capabilities into a transportation agency’s workforce, useful for addressing current workforce challenges as well as for building capacity into the future as technology evolves.
The research plan should:
1. Include a kick-off web conference to review the amplified work plan with the NCHRP project panel within a month of the contract’s execution;
2. Address how the proposer intends to satisfy the objective of the research;
3. Be logically divided into two distinct phases encompassing specific detailed tasks for each phase, including a description of all milestones and appropriate deliverables; and
4. Provide ample opportunities for panel review, comment, and approval of project approach and milestone deliverables.
Phase I: Data Collection and Analysis
Proposers are asked to articulate a strategy for identifying the specific workforce capabilities and needs of state DOTs and other transportation agencies seeking to implement sophisticated transportation technologies within their systems. This would be accomplished within the following requested tasks:
Task 1. Conduct an extensive review of literature related to workforce development and the capabilities required for new transportation technology deployment, such as connected and automated vehicles and similarly complex systems. The literature review should identify available academic curricula and degree programs, training and development programs, and other resources available to build transportation agency workforce competencies for deploying new transportation technologies.
Task 2: Conduct a transportation agency state-of-practice assessment that identifies the current status of transportation agency approaches to build workforce competencies to deploy new technologies. Efforts by state DOTs and other transportation agencies to address workforce challenges related to technology deployment should be identified and documented, including the details of workforce development strategies such as training, recruitment, and other initiatives and a general assessment of the success of those efforts.
Task 3. Using the data collected in Tasks 1 and 2, conduct a gap analysis that identifies specific agency workforce needs and compares that with the availability of resources that could be directed to agencies. The analysis should specify areas where there are needs for further growth and development.
Task 4. Develop a Phase II work plan that responds to the gaps identified and other lessons learned from previous tasks and specifies a plan for completing the research objective.
Task 5. Develop an interim report that comprehensively documents the research conducted during Phase I and provides an annotated outline of the guide and any additional proposed resources to supplement the guide.
The research team shall be prepared to present the interim report, Phase II work plan, and guide outline to NCHRP and the project panel for discussion in an interim meeting. NCHRP approval of the interim report and guide outline is required prior to initiation of Phase II of the research plan.
Phase II: Guide Development
Phase II of the research plan should focus on assessing the value of methods, strategies, and approaches identified in Phase I for inclusion in the guide and development of the final research products.
Final deliverables should include:
1. A guide for broad use by transportation agencies that would also be useful to representatives of the academic, workforce development, and technology training industries. Contained within the guide should be tools to facilitate the use of the guide by transportation agencies and education and workforce development organizations:
• Decision frameworks that facilitate the acquisition, onboarding, training, and development of new or existing employees to meet agency workforce needs;
• Sample educational curricula for university and workforce development programs;
• Position descriptions and knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) for transportation agency positions; and
• Lists of available training programs, academic programs, and other resources that could be used by transportation agencies to fulfill their workforce needs.
2. Implementation plan that includes a detailed strategy for bringing the products of this research to the transportation industry for practical application.
3. A final report that documents the research process and data collected in completing the research.