January 27, 2020 12:30 PM, EST

Campaign to Address Transportation Management and Operations Workforce Development

Congestion on Interstate 64 in Louisville, Ky. (John Sommers II for Transport Topics)

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The National Operations Center of Excellence launched a workforce development campaign geared toward professionals in the transportation systems management and operations field.

NOCoE, created through a partnership among the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, the Institute of Transportation Engineers, the Intelligent Transportation Society of America and the Federal Highway Administration, is meant to act as a resource for state and local transportation departments.

Announced Jan. 22, the campaign is meant to address transportation leaders’ concern about building a skilled workforce to serve in transportation systems management and operations roles. NOCoE notes in its announcement that, as traffic management becomes increasingly reliant on technology, there is a need for operations workers who can be trained to manage those systems effectively.

NOCoE Managing Director Patrick Son


“Our industry practitioners and their leadership tell us that workforce development is a ‘keep me up at night’ issue,” NOCoE Managing Director Patrick Son said. “NOCoE’s position in the [transportation systems management and operations] community allows us to bring stakeholders together to address this universal transportation issue and collaboratively develop lasting solutions to ensure the workforce keeps up with the advancements in technology and innovation.”

The workforce development initiative includes a new website that offers a variety of resources, including education and training materials, industry assessments of existing positions and human resources department tools, such as model job descriptions. Sample jobs include traffic data scientist, visualization specialist, connected- and automated-vehicles program manager, and cybersecurity engineer.

The website is meant to provide guidance for departments of transportation, education groups, and public and private organizations that are interested in evaluating the workforce’s changing needs in terms of skills, training, recruitment and retention.

In March, the group is launching the NOCoE Fellowship Program, which will offer a select number of transportation systems management and operations workers opportunities to develop skills and techniques they can apply on the job.

In addition to the website, NOCoE will host in-person workforce development workshops at industry gatherings. NOCoE also will conduct a free webinar series.

“It really is an across-the-board review of the human resources and workforce investment that agencies and the private sector can use to successfully navigate and improve the future of transportation through the investment in our people,” Son said.

NOCoE’s campaign stemmed from the group’s national workforce summit, which was held in 2016. Participants at the summit identified many of the research needs required for the transportation systems management and operations sector to improve its workforce. NOCoE then initiated a research project with the National Cooperative Highway Research Program, which resulted in a new workforce guidebook and helped craft NOCoE’s workforce website.

In the announcement, Son encouraged members of the transportation industry to collaborate with NOCoE as the initiative progresses.

“NOCoE was born from a partnership between AASHTO, ITE and ITS America with support from FHWA, so we understand the power of collaboration,” Son said. “NOCoE is simply a knowledge-sharing organization.”

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