Attracting, Recruiting, and Retaining Skilled Staff for Transportation System Operations and Management

Transportation system operations and management (SOM) draws on the knowledge of many disciplines--including, for example, traffic engineering, intelligent transportation systems, maintenance, emergency response and incident management, performance measurement, and system planning--applied in a comprehensive approach to increase the efficiency and safety of the transportation system. SOM encompasses interactions among transportation modes and between the transportation system and other functions such as emergency management, public safety, and the concerns of the general public. SOM contributes to the creation and maintenance of livable communities, improving public health by reducing air pollution, saving energy, and supporting economic development, as well as promoting efficient traffic flow. The AASHTO Highway Subcommittee on Systems Operations and Management defines SOM specifically as "an integrated program designed to make the best use of existing highway infrastructure through provision of systems and services that preserve and improve performance." State departments of transportation, metropolitan planning organizations, corridor coalitions, and other transportation agencies are being called on increasingly to expand their activities beyond the more traditional design and construction functions most closely associated with civil engineering to the broader and more diverse tasks of SOM. While many transportation agencies view SOM as an increasing priority, they are encountering a shortage of management, professional, and technical staff with appropriate skills and knowledge. Retirement of transportation practitioners will deplete the ranks of qualified transportation professionals. Many students emerging from currently available education programs lack the cross-disciplinary perspective and multi-disciplinary skills needed for SOM. The transportation agencies are coming to recognize the need to support development of the supply of SOM management, professional, and technical staff. NCHRP Project 20-77, "Transportation Operations Training Framework," was undertaken to develop a training and capacity-building framework for SOM management, professional, and technical staff. That project identified the core functions and employment positions that characterize SOM activities, as well as many currently available SOM education and training resources for transportation professionals. It seems likely, however, that if transportation agencies are to meet their needs, they must work to expand the pool of workers with SOM expertise by reaching out to students at all levels preparing to enter the workforce, to older workers seeking to extend their careers past traditional retirement ages, and to workers of all ages seeking to change their career paths. Research is needed to define more clearly the needs for SOM management, professional, and technical staff and resources for attracting, retaining, and enhancing the skills of SOM staff. The objective of this research is to provide transportation agencies with strategies and resources to meet their needs for SOM staff. The research will consider the potential demand for and supply of SOM workforce; the actions transportation agencies may take to attract, recruit, develop, and retain skilled staff with SOM capabilities; and the tools that are available or may be developed to assist agencies to take action.


  • English


  • Status: Active
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project 20-86

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Federal Highway Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  USA  20590

    American Association of State Highway & Transportation Officials

    444 North Capitol Street, NW, Suite 225
    Washington, DC    20001

    National Cooperative Highway Research Program

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC  USA  20001
  • Project Managers:

    Lemer, Andrew

  • Performing Organizations:

    ICF Consulting, Incorporated

    101 Lucas Valley Road
    San Rafael, CA  USA  94903-1791
  • Principal Investigators:

    Cronin, Brian

  • Start Date: 20100406
  • Actual Completion Date: 20110405
  • Source Data: RiP Project 22372

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01464181
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: National Cooperative Highway Research Program
  • Contract Numbers: Project 20-86
  • Files: TRB, RiP, USDOT
  • Created Date: Jan 3 2013 2:37PM