Workforce Development Needs of Transportation Sector Climate Adaptation Professionals

Climate adaptation is now a well-documented need in the transportation sector, and there are strong conceptual frameworks for the adaptation process. Since climate adaptation is an emerging field, the pathways for developing the skills and competencies for adaptation careers are not well established. This white paper assesses the workforce development needs and current training opportunities related to transportation-sector climate adaptation. To do so, training needs were examined and opportunities identified by state and regional transportation agencies; training needs of aspiring and early-career climate adaptation professionals were cataloged; and a scan was completed of the educational opportunities in climate adaptation currently offered by universities in the United States. There is evidence of convergence on the areas of content knowledge, technical expertise, and soft skills that form the core competencies necessary to support climate adaptation within the transportation sector. These core competencies are in climate science, adaptation strategies, communication, and selection of adaptation measures/decision making under uncertainty. While these competencies need to be broadly distributed throughout transportation agencies, the relative emphasis placed on each competency will vary across agency functions and job responsibilities. The increased value placed on adaptation-related expertise by state departments of transportation and regional transportation agencies, as well as the emergence of new educational and training opportunities in climate adaptation available in higher education and professional organizations, is indicative of the potential for rapid growth in this area.