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United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

Workforce Development Initiative

Collage of four images of transit personnel engaged in training activities.
Photos courtesy Nina Barbiarz of the Southern California Regional Transit Training Consortium. Photos taken before COVID-19.

What's New

  • On April 9, 2021, FTA announced a $5 million Notice of Funding Opportunity under the Technical Assistance and Workforce Development Program to establish a Transit Workforce Center (TWC) that supports public transit agencies’ workforce development needs for all modes of public transit across urban, tribal, and rural entities.
  • On December 9, 2020, FTA posted the FTA Annual Report on Technical Assistance and Workforce Development for FY 2020 (Report 0180). This statutorily required annual report provides information on FTA’s Technical Assistance and Workforce Development Program (49 U.S.C. § 5314), including technical assistance, workforce development, standards, human resources, and training projects active in FY 2020. The report also details FTA’s process for making allocations in FY 2021.

Overview

The FTA Workforce Development Initiative provides resources and support for public transit agencies to recruit, retain and train transit workers to ensure the transit industry has the workforce needed for today and in the future. Elements of the initiative include:

  • Cooperative agreements with transit agencies to develop innovative workforce projects
  • Reports and information on the results of those projects
  • Meetings and conferences to gather information about public transit agency workforce issues/concerns
  • A new transit workforce technical assistance program

Over the last decade, FTA provided over $20 million to fund innovative workforce grants, and to date, most of those grants are complete. See the evaluation reports. This initiative also ensures that agencies can upskill, reskill, and hire an equitable and diverse workforce for current and new jobs emerging through advanced technologies.

FTA’s Workforce Development Initiative seeks to:

  • Provide a roadmap and strategic support to help transit agencies recruit, retain, and train their workforce for today and tomorrow
  • Develop resources to ensure equity and diversity in the public transit workforce
  • Help agencies use the half of one percent available from urbanized area formula grants and other funding investments to develop workforce initiatives that address the unique needs of each agency
  • Partner with the Department of Labor to help agencies leverage funding and initiatives across both federal agencies
  • Help support the development of internships, apprenticeships, and/or work-based skills training
  • As needed, develop transit curriculum for transit operators and engineers/technicians especially in safely working with low or zero-emission buses while ensuring there is no duplication of training activities led by the National Transit Institute
  • Support academic and technical trade education partnerships, especially with community colleges
  • Assess and develop partnerships with social services programs to ensure workforce development programs also have resources to support worker transitions from other fields or from disadvantaged backgrounds

Eligible Activities

FTA’s Workforce Development Initiative is authorized under FTA’s Technical Assistance and Workforce Development Program (49 U.S.C. § 5314). The types of projects eligible for funding under this program include 1) technical assistance, 2) human resources/training, and 3) innovative public transportation frontline workforce development.

  • Technical assistance activities
  • Human resources and training projects including:
    • Employment training programs
    • Outreach to specific under-represented populations in the workforce
    • Research on public transportation personnel and training needs
    • Training and assistance for veteran and minority business opportunities
    • Consensus-based national training standards and certifications in partnership with industry stakeholders
  • Innovative public transportation frontline workforce development projects including:
    • Developing apprenticeships, on-the-job training, and instructional training for public transportation maintenance and operations occupations
    • Building local, regional, and statewide public transportation training partnerships with local public transportation operators, labor union organizations, workforce development boards, and State workforce agencies to identify and address workforce skill gaps
    • Improving safety, security, and emergency preparedness in local public transportation systems through improved safety culture and workforce communication with first responders and the riding public
    • Addressing current or projected workforce shortages by developing partnerships with high schools, community colleges, and other community organizations

Eligible Recipients

Eligible applicants depend upon what type of project is being funded. Typically, eligible recipients include urban and rural transit agencies; state departments of transportation (DOTs) providing public transportation services; Metropolitan Planning Organizations; Indian Tribes; nonprofit institutions; and institutions of higher education. 

Statutory References

Technical Assistance and Workforce Development Program (49 U.S.C. § 5314)

Allocation of Funding

Workforce Development Program projects are funded annually under the Technical Assistance and Workforce Development Program (49 U.S.C. § 5314). 

Match

Typically, federal grants under this program provide an 80-percent government share, leaving a 20-percent match requirement for recipients. Recipients may derive that match through in-kind activities not funded by the Federal government and match from other Federal agencies as noted in the Coordinated Council on Access and Mobility resources on match. 
  
However, projects funded under Technical Assistance and Workforce Development Program (49 U.S.C. § 5314 (a)), through a cooperative agreement (not a grant), may be funded at 100 percent and not require a local match. 

Funding Mechanism 

Competitive Cooperative Agreement 

Previously Awarded Workforce Projects

 Additional FTA Resources

Last updated: Monday, April 12, 2021