“It’s a win-win because this phase is going to help the community go into the 21st century and beyond,” said John ‘Big John’ Harriel, IBEW electrician and project superintendent for Morrow Meadows.
On Friday, July 28, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) launched Workforce Initiative Now-LA (WIN-LA), a groundbreaking workforce development program focused on creating career pathways in the transportation industry. Metro and elected officials along with employers, community-based organizations and workforce centers converged at the Sheraton Grand Los Angeles Hotel to galvanize this new initiative together.
In attendance was Metro CEO Phillip A. Washington and Miguel Cabral executive officer, diversity & economic opportunity, Mayor & Metro Board Chair Eric Garcetti, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, Mayors James T. Butts (Inglewood), Robert Garcia (Long Beach), Vartan Gharpetian (Glendale), councilmen Robert S. Joe (Pasadena) and Jeff Wood (Lakewood), Kate Mergen, director, governmental & regulatory affairs, associated general contractors of California, Shenae Rourk, chair, transportation business advisory council and chair, national association of women business owners and Robert B. Miller, vice chancellor, finance and resource development, Los Angeles Community College District.
The event introduced WIN-LA to prime contractors, small businesses and other potential partners to encourage their participation in the new programs designed to benefit the entire region.
“The expansion of our transportation system is going to create hundreds of thousands of new jobs, and we have a responsibility to make sure the people in our own communities have the skills to fill them,” said Garcetti. “Workforce Initiative Now-Los Angeles will offer training resources to people across L.A. County, and prepare them for tomorrow’s good-paying Metro jobs.”
“We are about to launch a very, very deep and wide workforce development initiative focused on transportation as the centerpiece but it will move beyond that,” said Ridley-Thomas. “Nothing but good news that can come out of this so our job is to put this WIN program out in our communities and tell people get ready, get ready, get ready!”
Career pathways include construction, non-construction opportunities in operations/maintenance, administration and professional services. Unique to the program, WIN-LA will provide support for participants in areas such as life skills development, skill set enhancement and educational attainment services through a collaboration of program partners. It also will increase the resources needed for training and placement of hard-to-fill positions within Metro and the transportation industry.
“It’s an opportunity for people to really learn about transportation and know that there are so many jobs here that make this whole thing work,” said Diane Frazier service operations superintendent for bus operations at METRO.
“This is a call to the community that your prayers have been answered,” said Metro Board Member Jackie Dupont-Walker. “If you are looking for a career in transportation, that has over 40 different professions, you should check it out.”
Approximately 39 percent of Metro’s workforce will be eligible for retirement over the next three years with 69 percent of Metro employees currently over the age of 40. Succession planning is crucial to maintaining a viable agency and Metro needs a workforce to deliver its aggressive Measure M program over the next 40 years and beyond.
WIN-LA is designed to be a collaborative partnership between Metro and those institutions and organizations interested in helping job seekers, companies and local communities through demand-driven workforce services. The goal is to create career pathway opportunities in the transportation and construction industries.
“What WIN LA means for the community is really reaching out, especially to those communities that are impoverished and on the lower socioeconomic strata and identify people in the those communities, assess them, train them and put them to work on our projects,” said Washington.
Measure M, a half-cent sales tax initiative approved by the voters in 2016, will provide $860 million annually to build 40 highway and transit projects throughout L.A. County over the next 40 years. It is expected to generate an additional 778,000 jobs.
“WIN-LA can be for those who feel they have no hope—the light at the end of the tunnel,” said Dupont-Walker.
“If you are hanging out at Starbucks, or hanging on the corner—we want you. If you just got back from prison and you don’t think anybody else wants you—we want you. If you have come back from serving in the military, can’t find a place to land—we want you.
“[Metro] has something for everybody—just show up.”
Brian W. Carter contributed to this article.