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The Source for Public Transportation News and Analysis December 14, 2012
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Expanding Professional Development and Training for APTA Members
BY PAMELA BOSWELL, APTA Vice President-Program Management and Educational Services

During the past year, APTA worked to expand its professional development and training efforts to provide improved service for its members. Here are a few examples.

Workforce Development: Investing in Public Transportation’s Human Capital
APTA continued its focus on the association’s strategic priority to invest and develop the industry’s human capital through workforce development, succession planning, and preparing the next generation of public transit leaders.

Helping APTA member organizations attract, develop, and retain a diverse, high-performance workforce remains a top priority, particularly among mid-level professionals.

APTA’s Blue Ribbon Panel on Workforce Development, a new task force led by then-APTA Vice Chair and current Chair Flora Castillo, developed recommendations in four key areas: sustaining human capital investment; developing and mentoring “early career” mid-level managers; creating new and expanded partnerships; and developing the private sector workforce.

The task force called for action to address the industry’s collective efforts. Among its recommendations was to identify what it called a major gap in development and mentoring for “early career” mid-level managers and launch a new program to meet that need.

APTA is in a position to provide “sustainable” ongoing leadership to the public transportation industry. The organization has established a “Center on Human Capital Investment” that will have an enhanced website presence, combined with webinars and roundtables, to promote best practices, address skill gap shortages, and teach strategies for how best to invest in human capital by leveraging partnerships with public transit training providers for management and front-line employees.

In 2012, APTA launched a program to involve more middle management staff and deputies in its activities and provide new opportunities for mid-level, younger managers to network, participate, and make presentations at APTA conferences and meetings. This included new breakfast sessions at the Bus & Paratransit Conference, Rail Conference, and Annual Meeting.

Mid-Level Managers Program
In recognition of the need to prepare the next generation of public transportation leaders, APTA launched a new signature program: the Mid-Level Managers Magnification Program or M3. More than 150 mid-level managers participated in the sessions.

The APTA Bus & Paratransit and Rail conference schedules also included National Transit Institute training sessions to provide mid-level managers with the skills necessary to lead, manage, and supervise.

For the first time in its history, APTA hosted a networking forum for deputy chief executive officers during the Transit CEOs Seminar. This session addressed such issues as career paths, professional courses, and ways in which APTA can support the professional development of future public transportation CEOs.

APTA continued to incorporate higher education students into its conference and meeting programs during 2012. More than 200 students from community colleges, technical and vocational schools, and four-year universities participated in presentations and student-led sessions at this year’s Bus & Paratransit and Rail conferences and Annual Meeting.

The association also managed the U.S. student competition for this year’s UIC 8th World Congress on High-Speed Rail in Philadelphia, with 13 award winners.

APTA played a major role in planning and managing the April 2012 “National Transportation Workforce Summit” sponsored by the Council of University Transportation Centers, DOT, and the Departments of Labor and Education. More than 300 people discussed issues including the changing roles of community colleges and universities, and challenges and opportunities for professional and continuing education.

Professional Credentials and Certification
This year, APTA created new opportunities for members to receive certification maintenance credits at APTA conferences, meetings and specialized workshops. More than 100 APTA members received credit during the year for their participation in the association’s educational programs.

In addition to offering credits for members of the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) and the American Institute of Architects (AIA),  APTA began giving credits for professional engineers in 2012.  APTA also secured approval from the International Institute for Municipal Clerks to extend credits for three training courses at the Board Support Employee Development Workshop held in conjunction with the Transit Board Members Seminar.

Conference Highlights
APTA designs its major meetings and conferences to provide members with valuable information, insight, and inspiration. In 2012, we raised the bar and attracted large numbers of participants.

At the Annual Meeting in Seattle, approximately 2,000 attendees heard FTA Administrator Peter M. Rogoff and Alan Boyd, the first DOT secretary, during the Opening General Session. Councilor Rehana Moosajee, member, Mayoral Committee, Transport, City of Johannesburg, South Africa, reported on her successful effort to build South Africa’s first Bus Rapid Transit system during a session sponsored by APTA’s Business Members. The closing session featured Seattle’s World Famous Pike Place Fishmongers, whose interactive presentation focused on keys to successful workplaces. The APTA/WTS Speaker Breakfast brought together a panel of powerful women, within public transportation and other industries, to share their perspectives on leadership.

More than 900 attendees heard remarks by FTA Deputy Administrator Therese McMillan at the 2012 Bus & Paratransit Conference and International Bus Roadeo in Long Beach, CA.

McMillan also addressed more than 1,000 participants at the 2012 Rail Conference in Dallas, TX, joined by FRA Administrator Joseph Szabo.

DOT Secretary Ray LaHood spoke at the Opening General Session of the 2012 Legislative Conference in Washington, DC. Rogoff and Szabo participated in a session about the future of the public transportation industry.

APTA also sponsored many more meetings and workshops during the year, covering such topics as public transportation and universities, Intelligent Transportation Systems best practices, light rail and streetcars, fare collection, multimodal operations, and sustainability.

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