US transportation agency gives $9.5M in job training grants

AP News
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Posted: Aug 25, 2015 5:27 PM

LOS ANGELES (AP) — With the nation investing billions to expand bus service and light rail lines, the U.S. Department of Transportation said Tuesday it is giving $9.5 million to programs that train workers for jobs in the transportation industry.

The 19 federal grants will benefit transit agencies or schools in places including New York City, Chicago, Cleveland, Minneapolis, Denver, the San Francisco Bay Area, Massachusetts, Maryland and Florida. U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx unveiled the recipients Tuesday at Los Angeles Trade-Technical College, a community college that is receiving $750,000 to establish an Institute for Advanced Transportation Technology Training.

Demand for qualified workers to drive or repair vehicles and manage transit systems is far greater than the current supply, and the grants will begin to help bridge this gap, Foxx said.

The transportation department did not have an immediate projection of how many people the grants would train. Grants are going to large cities and more rural areas for a range of programs, making an estimate tough, said Therese McMillan, acting administrator of the Federal Transit Administration.

About 399,000 people worked in the public transit sector in 2013, according to the latest available data from the American Public Transportation Association. In all transportation sectors, employers will need 4.6 million new workers by 2022 — more than the sector currently employs, according to the transit administration.

This is the Obama administration's third round of grants for transportation workforce training. In the two prior rounds, 29 organizations received $10 million and trained hundreds of people, according to the transit administration. The transit administration is evaluating exactly how many people received help so far, spokeswoman Angela Gates said.