Safety Career Pathways Initiative
The West Region Transportation Workforce Center led an initiative to establish safety career pathways for the transportation industry, which was completed in 2019 as one component of the National Transportation Career Pathways Initiative. Safety professionals in the transportation industry cover a wide range of responsibilities. Road construction and maintenance staff must take into consideration safe practices that protect both workers and road users; while engineering and planning professionals work to ensure the safety of the overall transportation system. Safety professionals must understand the complex interrelationship between multimodal system users, system design, and human behavior; and they must be able to implement effective countermeasures to improve safety outcomes.
Transportation safety is a problem that cannot be ignored
- 40,200 died in motor vehicle accidents in 2017
- Fatalities have increased despite new in-vehicle safety systems (National Safety Council)
- 94% of serious crashes are due to human error (NHTSA)
- 55% of roadway fatalities occur in rural areas
- Rural areas make up only 19% of the population (NHTSA)
To beat these unacceptable statistics, there is an increasing need for transportation professionals with safety-related competencies as evidenced by:
- A recognition that continued safety improvements will “require more road safety experts capable of applying rigorous scientific and systems approaches to safety management.” (TRB Special Report 289)
- Growing industry demand for the development of new safety certifications;
- National and state-level safety initiatives that mandate data-driven safety program development.
The WRTWC formed a discipline working group (DWG) of national leaders in the transportation industry to identify: critical safety occupations, the core competencies needed by transportation safety professionals, gaps in existing safety education and training, and innovative methods to deliver the necessary knowledge, skills, and abilities.
Next Generation Workforce
The career pathways initiative focused on bringing together academic and industry leadership to identify how workforce needs can be addressed in a dynamic world for the long term. The project recognized that emerging transportation technologies will have a major impact on the types of skills required by safety professionals in the future. The safety career pathways development process took these expected changes into account, seeking education delivery models that are adaptable to a changing world.
The vision for the Transportation Safety Career Pathways Initiative is to create opportunities and experiences that attract the next generation to safety careers as well as a roadmap for acquiring the knowledge, skills, and abilities that will lead to professional leadership in this critical field.
Transportation Safety Career Pathways Implementation Plan
The extensive planning process produced a comprehensive career pathways implementation plan.
Critical Transportation Safety Occupations Documentation
The initiative additionally produced documentation of career paths, job descriptions, academic programs of study and/or training, and experiential learning and professional development opportunities for each of the critical transportation safety occupations identified.
Transportation Safety Planning, Engineering, Design and Analysis Career Cluster
- Career Pathway 1: Transportation Safety Planning
- Career Pathway 2: Transportation Safety Engineering
- Career Pathway 3: Human Factors Engineering
- Career Pathways 4: Transportation Safety Data Analysis
Transportation Infrastructure Construction and Maintenance Career Cluster
- Career Pathway 1: Road Construction Safety Management
- Career Pathway 2: Highway Maintenance Safety Management
National Transportation Career Pathways Initiative
The WRTWC’s transportation safety career pathways project was part of a larger National Transportation Career Pathways Initiative (NTCPI), funded by the U.S. DOT Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). It was launched to identify the education, curriculum, training, and experiential learning required to produce competent transportation workers in five disciplines: safety, planning, operations, engineering, and the environment. Each Regional Transportation Workforce Center that makes up the National Network for the Transportation Workforce (NNTW) led a career pathway effort in one of the five disciplines.
To learn more about the National Network for the Transportation Network and the National Career Pathways Initiative, visit nntw.org