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WMATA takes training into its own hands

As the trained rail-worker pool continues to decline, some rail transit agencies — like a few freight counterparts — are reversing the trend by training people for entry-level positions.

Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), D.C. Department of Employment Services (DOES) and the University of the District of Columbia (UDC) Oct. 6 signed a Memorandum of Understanding to train up to 60 Washington, D.C., residents with skills that could enable them to work as WMATA entry-level mechanics.

"Metro has a critical need for employees with technical skills, and our community has a critical need for jobs," said Gladys Mack, WMATA Board Chairman, in a prepared statement.

D.C. government will provide the initial $216,000 financing under the 1998 federal Workforce Investment Act, and WMATA will assist UDC in curriculum preparation.

Under the joint venture, UDC plans to offer two 14-week training classes during the next 11 months. Up to 30 D.C. residents who have expressed a previous interest in working for WMATA, as identified by DOES, may enroll in each class.

Although WMATA does not guarantee employment for those who complete the training, the agency currently has a shortage of mechanics to maintain its electrical, power and automatic train control systems.

If the program proves to be a successful recruitment and training tool, the three parties may extend the program through 2005.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 10/9/2000