Since 2009, the Obama Administration’s focus on rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure and creating jobs has generated a tremendous amount of investment in transportation related initiatives. Championed by U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) Secretary, Ray LaHood, these initiatives have spanned the transportation industry including a portion being allocated to rail. At the 2010 ASME Joint Rail Conference (JRC), Kevin Kesler, Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) Chief of Equipment and Operating Practices Division shared insight into FRA’s tentative workforce development activity (FRA-WDT). This effort is being conducted as part of the larger USDOT National Transportation Workforce Strategy Initiative, which endeavors to identify and report workforce challenges and commonalities across all modes of transportation and discuss strategies to address those issues. Since that presentation, the FRA Workforce Development Team (FRA-WDT) has identified six railroad industry specific challenges and submitted them for incorporation in the USDOT Framework for a National Transportation Workforce Strategy: 1. Aging railroad workforce – highlighting need for knowledge transfer. 2. Workforce diversity – shortages of women and minorities in the rail workforce. 3. Overall image of the rail industry – declining and stagnant technologically. 4. Need for national training standards for freight rail craft and trade positions. 5. Work-life balance issues – attrition among employees with less than five years of service. 6. Availability of suitable metrics to constantly monitor the collective railroad workforce. These issues were derived from independent research as well as interviews conducted with representatives from across the railroad industry (i.e. Class I railroads, short line and regional railroads, labor unions, associations, academia, and FRA staff). Thus, FRA is interested in continuing the dialog and information exchange with railroad industry stakeholders as a means to strategize about these workforce concerns that impact each facet of the industry. An initial set of approaches to each challenge has been identified, which includes partnering with industry stakeholders. Full details and additional insight into the analysis will be shared in the paper.

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