21st Century Workforce Development Summit

Quarterly Reports Other Documents Final Report
September 2008
December 2008
March 2009
June 2009
Wittwer presentation
Workshop Agenda and Documents
Research Brief
Final Report

Primary Investigator

Teresa Adams, Ph.D.
University of Wisconsin-Madison
2205 Engineering Hall
1415 Engineering Drive
Madison, WI 53706
Ph: 608-263-3175


The transportation professionals of 2020 will require different skill sets than those of today. This change will require the workforce to adapt by altering curriculums, partnerships, and training.

The needs of these skill sets have been under review in recent years, as shown in Special Report 275: The Workforce Challenge. A challenge is the technology factor, which makes assessing skill sets an ever changing process. For example, the agencies must have knowledge of the materials being used in construction as well as intelligent transportation systems (ITS). Both of these areas are expanding rapidly in today’s world, and training and knowledge good enough 5 years ago might not even be relevant today.

Even with these expanding responsibilities, most programs have maintained or reduced staff due to budget restraints. Because of the budget constraints, agencies have difficulty recruiting and retaining professionals. The combination of lower pay and fewer options for advancement does not grab potential employee’s attention in the current competitive job market. This is especially important because 50% of the state agency’s workforce will be eligible to retire in the next 10 years, which is double the retirement rate for the country’s entire workforce.

The proposed summit will feed into and build upon several related efforts among the UTCs. The Council of University Transportation Centers (CUTC) has planned a series of regional workforce summits, including ones scheduled this spring in Massachusetts and this fall in West Virginia. The CUTC program of activities will focus on the federal role in transportation education, pipeline issues and partnerships between education and business to promote life-long learning. Similarly, the Southeastern Transportation Center (STC) has a summit planned for November 3-5, 2008. While CFIRE’s 21 st Century Transportation Workforce Summit recognizes these immediate issues, the primary focus in Madison will be on the evolution of the profession, speculating on the needs of the next generation of transportation professionals, and how to maintain high quality employees.


The goals of this project are to ensure an adequate transportation workforce for the future to enhance economic competitiveness and maintain high quality transportation infrastructure. This will be done by exploring factors that will influence transportation needs by 2020.


  1. Conduct pre-summit surveys of State and FHWA Divisions, Universities, and consultants with respect to workforce challenges. These surveys will determine the needs of the education community and to use as talking points in the planned group discussions in October. The results of these surveys will be tallied and presented as findings from the summit.
  2. Prepare assessment of current workforce status. This will be determined from the surveys received and discussions from the summit. Using this information, a composite report will be assembled to show the general views from all the leaders.
  3. Sample best practices for current and future workforce development and recruitment. Using the 2020 scenario, the effects of advances and restraints will be discussed and plans to counter future workforce challenges will be documented.
  4. Coordinate ongoing activities of CUTC and FHWA in this area. CUTC hosts various regional workforce summits around the country. To avoid overlap of discussions, CFIRE will remain in contact with CUTC about planned summits and make the topics known.
  5. Design, plan, and execute the October 2008 21 st Century Workforce Summit. The design and planning portion will involve the logistical arrangements for the event. Finally, the event will be run in October, a proposed agenda is presented here as an attachment.

Project Information

  • Duration: 13 months
  • Dates: June 30, 2008 – June 30, 2009
  • Budget: CFIRE: $17,500; Total: $35,000
  • Modal Orientation: Multimodal
  • Project ID: CFIRE 01-10
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