Workforce 2030--Attracting, Retaining, and Developing the Transportation Workforce: Design, Construction, and Maintenance

As noted in a 2015 report, “Strengthening Skills Training and Career Pathways Across the Transportation Industry,” released jointly by the U.S. Departments of Education, Transportation, and Labor, the U.S. Department of Transportation spends $51 billion annually on construction, repair, and operation of our nation’s highways, bridges, and public transportation systems—a significant investment benefiting multiple dimensions of society. Every $1 billion invested in the transportation infrastructure produces 13,000 jobs across multiple industry sectors. Much of this investment is in highways and bridges developed, constructed, and maintained through state departments of transportation (DOTs). In FY 2016, state governments added an additional $126 billion in transportation infrastructure spending (Total US Government spending). Agencies are increasingly challenged by the availability and preparedness of the design, construction, and maintenance workforce. Despite the growing demand for new and replacement staff, budget challenges will mean that state DOTs will likely be working with a significantly smaller workforce than desired. Looming retirements will also put additional demands on staffing as many new workers will require significant training to meet present and future demands. To manage the dynamics of meeting tomorrow’s design, construction, and maintenance demands with a smaller workforce, state DOTs need robust human capital programs that can attract and train engineers, technicians, and maintenance workers needed to maintain the U.S. highway infrastructure. The workforce shortage among state transportation agencies has evolved over time, and state DOTs recognize that challenges cannot be overcome without significant changes in workforce recruitment and training practices. By starting to address the need for long-range human capital strategies, Workforce 2030 is envisioned as a first step on the pathway for sustaining a qualified workforce. While the shortage in the transportation construction workforce runs parallel to workforce shortages in other industries, state DOTs face unique challenges. It has already been established that, in general, state DOTs are unable to offer employees the same pay scales and benefits as private companies. Other contributing factors have not been as well researched. For example, many public agencies struggle to maintain technical career paths that reward and support the development and retention of staff with valuable specific skill areas. In addition, the demand for transportation construction, reconstruction, and maintenance work is increasing. Providing improved human capital programs that effectively attract, retain, and develop quality personnel throughout the industry is critical. The objectives of this research are the following: (1) To produce a roadmap of effective human capital strategies for state DOTs, identifying critical areas necessary in the future to attract, retain, and develop a sustainable, qualified transportation design, construction, and maintenance workforce; (2) To identify trends, policies, and processes critical for developing and maintaining an adaptive organizational framework that will attract, retain, and develop a qualified workforce beyond 2030; and (3) To prepare an evidence-based guide that transportation industry organizations may use when developing and establishing an effective human capital program for a qualified workforce into 2030 and beyond.


  • English


  • Status: Proposed
  • Funding: $700000
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project 02-25

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    National Cooperative Highway Research Program

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001

    Federal Highway Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590

    American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO)

    444 North Capitol Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001
  • Project Managers:

    Goldstein, Lawrence

  • Start Date: 20190318
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 0

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01669529
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: Project 02-25
  • Files: TRB, RiP, USDOT
  • Created Date: May 21 2018 3:07PM