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VTA, ATU "Grow Your Own" Initiative Receives $1 Million Grant to Create More Public Transit Jobs

Public Information Officer
Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority
San Jose, CA

A program to train much-needed public transit operators and maintenance workers at the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) is ­taking shape thanks to a $1 million grant from the California Community College Chancellor’s Office.

VTA, Mission College of Santa Clara and Amalgamated Transit Workers Union (ATU) Local 265 are launching the “Transit Apprenticeships for Professional Career Advancement” initiative to build a unique system of apprenticeship programs to recruit and train 100 apprentices during the two-year grant period.

The initiative was developed to address increasing demand for public transit in the Santa Clara Valley and the Bay Area and the impending personnel crisis in the public transportation industry due to a high percentage of transit employees retiring soon or currently eligible to retire. New DOT studies show that over the next 10 years, the public transit industry will need to hire and train new workers equivalent to 126 percent of today’s total workforce.

VTA’s workforce development strategy, “Grow Your Own,” offers current VTA workers the opportunity to learn new skills and move into new careers using this apprenticeship approach. These opportunities begin with the entry-level position of a professional coach operator and lead to the highest-paid ATU—and hardest to fill—position, overhead line worker.

“It’s very gratifying to provide our most important resource—our employees—the opportunity for career growth and advancement,” said VTA General Manager Nuria Fernandez.

VTA and its largest union, ATU Local 265, have created several industry-leading training programs through their Joint Workforce Investment (JWI) initiative, a nationally acclaimed labor-management partnership.

“Our ongoing partnership with Mission College will help deliver this critical apprenticeship training, which will build our bench of employees and fill these increasingly technical job classifications that require specialized knowledge,” ­Fernandez added.

A recently published report from the Transit Cooperative Research Program ranked VTA and the JWI model the highest labor-management partnership (LMP) of all the agencies studied. Find the report, Report 181: Labor-Management Partnerships for Public Transportation, here by searching on the title.

The grant will allow VTA to construct a new light rail training classroom and hands-on laboratory at VTA’s Guadalupe Division to give apprentices the most effective and complete training experience. One hundred apprentices will receive full salary and benefits during their training programs. By the end of the two-year grant period, apprentices will receive college credit through Mission College upon successful completion of their participation.

For details and to apply to the program, go to the VTA website and search on VTA Job Opportunities. 

Herlinda Maclas, VTA mechanic and JWI student, getting hands-on training testing electrical circuits.

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