It’s a great time to launch a career in the transportation field. So say faculty members in the Wright State University Public Transit and Social Services Transportation Certificate Program.
The field’s workforce is aging, leading to more job opening for younger workers. Plus, the need for public and social service transit is growing throughout the country.
Transportation experts, like Richard Schultze, an adjunct professor who teaches transportation courses at Wright State University, say retirements of Baby Boomers in the field pose a major challenge for the industry, and provide opportunities for young people.
According to a report from the 2012 National Transportation Workforce Summit, 50 percent of the transportation workforce will be eligible to retire in the next 10 years
“There’s a huge and growing need for public transit, social service transportation in our country,” said Schultze, a senior associate at RLS & Associates, a transportation consulting firm in Dayton.
Schultze says the Public Transit and Social Services Transportation Certificate Program, which is offered by the Department of Urban Affairs and Geography, can help train students for careers in the transportation industry.
The certificate program provides students with the right kind of background and experience to bring innovative ideas to the transportation field, Schultze said.
Those who have gone through the program have landed jobs with public transit systems, government agencies like the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT), social service agencies and transit consulting firms. There are 57 public transit systems in Ohio and several thousand private social service systems, Schultze said.
“People in this field are just really passionate about what they do because they’re providing service for the elderly and disabled, for low income, and also to help the environment and to help promote the local economy,” Schultze said.
The transportation field is a good fit for “people who want to serve the community and meet an emerging need in the community,” said Jack Dustin, Ph.D., chair of urban affairs and geography at Wright State.
The transportation certificate program emphasizes the role transportation plays in the social and economic health of local communities and the state of Ohio. Students learn about mobility issues for users of public and social service transit, urban development and land-use patterns and environmental issues.
The program is open to undergraduate and graduate students at Wright State as well as people not enrolled in a degree program.
Wright State is the only university in Ohio offering this kind of certificate, according to Dustin.
The university and ODOT are considering expanding the program across Ohio and making it available to those outside Wright State. The university hopes to begin offering the classes online by fall 2014, Dustin said.
Students in the program are required to take Transportation Principles, Public/Human Services Transportation and four elective courses ranging from urban affairs to business to organizational leadership, as well as an internship.
ODOT worked with Wright State to develop the program and provides funds for internships with transit agencies.
Looming Baby Boomer retirements are not the only reason opportunities exist for young people in the transportation industry. Society’s aging population also means more people are likely to use public and social service transportation.
For instance, he said, more people are living longer at home, so transportation officials need to plan how to get more people to places like the grocery store and the doctor’s office.
“As you become older, you become less mobile and you become more dependent on transportation services,” Dustin said.
More information on the Public Transit and Social Services Transportation Certificate Program is available by contacting Jack Dustin at (937) 775-4451 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or by visiting the Department of Urban Affairs and Geography website.