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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

USDOT issues $9.5 million in workforce development grants

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx yesterday announced that $9.5 million in grants will be issued to 19 projects in 13 states that will help train skilled workers and support long-term careers in public transportation.

Funded through the Federal Transit Administration's (FTA) Innovative Public Transportation Workforce Development Program, the grants include two projects in Los Angeles: the L.A. Trade-Technical College (LATTC) will receive funding to establish the Institute for Advanced Transportation Technology Training; and the Community Career Development Inc. (CCD) will receive funding for its Moving Employees into Transit Related Opportunities (METRO) program.

"The public transit industry offers good-paying careers that can lift Americans into the middle class or help them stay there, and more of these careers will be available in the future," said Foxx in a press release. "These grants will help us overcome skills gaps and provide more young people with the training, apprenticeships, and educational opportunities they need to gain entry into these careers."

The LATTC program will be the first of its kind in a community college and in the country. The CCD's METRO program will partner with other organizations to recruit and train low-income individuals, women, veterans, minorities and others from the L.A. area.

Another grant-awardee is the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority, which will receive funding for the Career Pathways Program, a partnership between the agency and Cuyahoga Community College, Cleveland State University and El Barrio Workforce Development Center.

Foxx and FTA Acting Administrator Therese McMillan announced the grants in Los Angeles, a day after the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) and the U.S. departments of education and labor unveiled a new report, "Strengthening Skills Training and Career Pathways across the Transportation Industry," which outlined the future growth areas of employment "hot spots" in transportation.

The report noted that transportation industry employers will need to hire and train 4.6 million new workers — 1.2 times the current transportation workforce — due to growth, retirements and turnover in the industry from 2012 to 2022.

"The demand for skilled transit workers will continue to grow as new projects are planned, built, and come on line and as ridership continues to expand  in cities like Los Angeles and other communities across the country," said McMillan.

Demand for the FTA workforce grants exceeded available funding. The agency received a total of 50 applications requesting more than $27 million, USDOT officials said.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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