On April 7, 2014, representatives from Siemens, Bombardier, Nippon Sharyo, CAF-USA, Kawasaki, and other potential suppliers “learned about best-practices in U.S. workforce development, diversity, and outreach to disadvantaged workers” via an informational webinar hosted by the Jobs to Move America coalition, described as “a national coalition uniting more than 30 community, civil rights, faith-based, philanthropic, labor, academic and environmental groups.” The webinar was offered free of charge for railcar manufacturing company staff and executives, government officials, and interested experts in the field. More than 60 stakeholders participated.
“We want to inspire the companies bidding to build high speed trains for Amtrak and California to create thousands of U.S. jobs and exciting opportunities for disadvantaged Americans,” said Madeline Janis, Director of the Jobs to Move America campaign. “It’s vital to put billions of our taxpayer dollars to good use, reviving America’s manufacturing sector and reducing devastatingly high unemployment.”
The webinar, according to the coalition, “featured real-world snapshots of workforce development programs that have created the most innovative and successful efforts to get more women, people of color, and disadvantaged people into manufacturing jobs. Roll-up-your-sleeve experts from top non-profit, community college, and union programs in Chicago, Wisconsin, and Los Angeles explained models for recruiting, hiring, and training disadvantaged workers into skilled railcar manufacturing jobs.”
The coalition’s new website features a workforce development resource bank, and a range of other information and tools “to make America’s transit dollars go the distance.” It also includes “a pledge asking transit officials to use dollars wisely, personal stories of transportation manufacturing workers, and testimonials from prominent leaders of the Jobs to Move America coalition.”
During the webinar, Dan Swinney, Executive Director of Manufacturing Renaissance, shared success stories of Chicago area training programs that imbue manufacturing workers with standardized skills, saying, “Let’s make our programs a stepping stone not just to a job, but to a career. Successful education and training programs linked to manufacturing must align with national skill standards and formal industry credentials that are portable. Everyone benefits—companies, employees and our education and training system.”
Webinar presenters Leticia Barajas, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Workforce Development of Los Angeles Trade Technical College (LATTC), Earl Buford, President and CEO of the Wisconsin Regional Training Partnership and Building Industry Group Skilled Trades Employment Program (WRTP/BIG STEP), and José Osuna, Employment Services Director of Homeboy Industries, shared their perspectives.
“University of Massachusetts-Amherst economists estimate that Amtrak’s approach could incent manufacturing companies to create nearly 28,000 American jobs,” said Madeline Janis. “The Jobs to Move America coalition hopes to spark the beginning of a national resource center for public transit agencies and rolling stock manufacturers to connect with and develop workforce development programs, as we all work to create more good manufacturing jobs.”