NNTW Secures $1.25 Million National Career Pathway Initiative



NNTW Logo with Pathways Initiative

The National Network for the Transportation Workforce (NNTW) will lead a national career pathway demonstration program as a result of being awarded a $1.25 million Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) grant entitled, “National Transportation Career Pathways Initiative." Each workforce center, based in California, Montana, Wisconsin, Vermont, and Tennessee, is responsible for one discipline under the initiative.


The NNTW will establish five Discipline Working Groups by recruiting subject matter experts with the backgrounds and experience necessary to outline the knowledge, skills, and abilities required to accomplish the daily tasks and outcomes expected for each critical occupation. Their expertise in combination with other available labor market and occupational analysis tools available (e.g. O*NET, Burning Glass, etc.) will provide data to assess the competencies required in key occupations within the five disciplines.


 The Southwest Transportation Workforce Center (SWTWC) will serve as the administrative headquarters and the program lead for the initiative. Under the grant, SWTWC will launch a pilot career pathway demonstration program focused on transportation planning career pathways. That pilot program will inform the development of subsequent career pathway demonstrations that address critical transportation occupations in planning, engineering, safety, operations, and environment. The Northeast Transportation Workforce Center (NETWC) will focus on the environmental concerns in the workforce, including topics like climate adaption, alternative fuels, and under-represented groups in the transportation workforce. The West Region Transportation Workforce Center (WRTWC) focuses on the safety concerns, including rural transportation and safety, mobility and livability, tribal transportation, and federal lands. The operations responsibilities of the initiative are apportioned to the Southeast Transportation Workforce Center (SETWC). In addition to these operational responsibilities, the SETWC focuses on transportation topics such as women in transportation, the military and veteran transition to the transportation workforce, and freight. The Midwest Transportation Workforce Center (MTWC) is responsible for the engineering discipline under the initiative and will focus its efforts on highway maintenance engineering. 


Throughout the life of the two-year grant, the NNTW team will work to identify diverse stakeholder needs and then test the viability of pilot-scale efforts that leverage the strengths, resources, and engagement of public- and private-sector employers and leaders in academia.


The project will result in a transportation challenge demonstration model to engage technical school, community college, university, and industry partners in a relatively low-cost but high-reward demonstration program within a short time period. The transportation challenge model will serve as a vehicle for developing innovative, real-world, project-based challenge lessons around a central challenge theme, bringing together education, public sector, and industry experts. For the transportation workforce, the transportation challenge model will provide an opportunity to engage students in cutting-edge projects that showcase transformational technologies and trends that are developed collaboratively by industry experts and higher education faculty. This process will ensure that project curriculum reflects industry needs as well as education stakeholder expectations, and it is hoped it will result in greater numbers of students being appropriately prepared for and pursuing transportation career pathways.

“With multidisciplinary specialists, stakeholders from across the country, and extensive labor market analysis, our national network team is uniquely positioned to carry out the goals of the strategic initiative,” said Dr. Thomas O’Brien, SWTWC Director and METRANS Associate Director of Long Beach Programs. “Our career pathway demonstration programs will prepare future transportation professionals to develop industry competencies and move beyond disciplinary silos to address transportation workforce challenges throughout the nation.”