Changing Workforce Development Needs for Regional Transportation Planning Agencies in California

The transportation industry faces future workforce challenges, including a lack of trained personnel in fields such as engineering, construction management, and intelligent transportation systems (ITS). The public sector will be particularly hard hit because it faces the threat of attrition at senior levels as skilled workers retire or move to the private sector. This project aims at understanding how fundamental changes from SB 375 and other legislative mandates have impacted MPOs from a workforce standpoint. Using online surveys, job scans, and in-depth interviews with members of COGs and MPOs in California, the authors determined the importance of several factors on workforce capacity. These factors include recruitment, available funding for professional development, curriculum content in college and university programs, and the role of in-service training. Results indicate that, for regional transportation planning agencies, there is an increased need for functional modeling expertise to comply with SB 375 mandates and the need to accommodate a shift toward activity-based modeling. The interview participants acknowledged that SB 375 increased responsibilities and changed processes for MPOs, including the need to consider the possible impacts to the agency of litigation over the SCS or the Regional Transportation Plan (RTP). The interviews also indicated that, MPOs hire personnel with diverse skill sets—ranging from engineering to modeling and public outreach—to deliver on SB 375 goals. The report seeks to document the evolving role of MPOs resulting from the kind of mandates enacted by SB 375 and the concurrent demand for both traditional skills sets relating to regional planning processes and those that respond to demands for planners to: Optimize existing projects by making them “smarter” and further ensuring that these projects contribute to environmental sustainability & link transportation planning to land use patterns with the intention of diminishing vehicle miles travelled (VMTs) and associated pollutants. These are new inextricable planning synergies that require planning professionals to marry traditional transportation planning skills with climate change assessment and abatement skills. Throughout this report the authors will refer to this as “sustainable transportation planning skills.” This expectation is tacitly set forth in SB 375 and is impacting employee hiring and retention and employee salary needs, as well as the need for additional training and skill building. This study’s findings will contribute to the knowledge of workforce development needs as well as the potential for policy responses at the federal, state, and local level.

  • Record URL:
  • Supplemental Notes:
    • This document was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Transportation, University Transportation Centers Program.
  • Corporate Authors:

    National Center for Sustainable Transportation

    University of California, Davis
    Davis, CA  United States 

    METRANS Transportation Center

    University of Southern California
    Los Angeles, CA  United States  90089-0626

    Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology

    University Transportation Centers Program
    Department of Transportation
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Authors:
  • Publication Date: 2018-11


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Features: Appendices; Figures; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 83p

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01690033
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Created Date: Dec 14 2018 11:00AM