CBTC Technical Recruiting and Training Challenges

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CBTC Technical Recruiting and Training Challenges

  1. 1. “The Human Element—Part 2” Training & Education Challenges for CBTC/PTC Implementations M. J. quot;Markquot; Engels Railroad-Transit Signal Design Principal ESCORRT LLC Fond du Lac, Wisc. USA http://www.escorrtllc.com http://www.linkedin.com/in/mjengels
  2. 2. “In The Beginning…”
  3. 3. …and on the forty-sixth day…
  4. 4. …and then…
  5. 5. Today’s Topics • The Road Less Travelled • The View From Here • The Path Ahead
  6. 6. The Road Less Travelled
  7. 7. The Road Less Travelled • Educational Background • Exposure to the Railroad Industry • Entrance into C&S Career Path
  8. 8. The Road Less Travelled: Educational Background • Lake Superior State University – Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan (Accredited by TAC-ABET) – Bachelors of Science • Electrical Engineering Technology – Associates of Science • Computer Engineering Technology – Other Coursework • CAD design • PLC programming • Michigan Engineer-In-Training Exam Passed
  9. 9. The Road Less Travelled: Experience in Allied Fields • Manufacturing (Michigan) • Embedded Systems Development – Automotive Press Rooms – Medical Devices • Field Service Technician • Verification Systems Engineer – Coordination with skilled trades – Design Validation Testing – Field Updates – Manual & Automated Systems » PLC program files » “Black Box” » CAD design files » “White Box” • Verification Systems Manager – Automotive Assembly Tooling – Telephony • Systems Engineer – PLC program development • Verification Systems Engineer – CAD file creation – Startup telco OEM » Engine assembly » Manufacturing work cells – Avionics • Verification Systems Engineer – Medical Devices (Minnesota) • Engineering Project Manager • Systems Engineer – Mainframe System Support
  10. 10. The Road Less Travelled: Exposure to the Railroad Industry • Father’s hardware store – Next to Class I secondary main line • Ride-along with track inspector in hi-rail truck • Ride-along in caboose with local crew – Rule violations, but tolerated – “Set the hook” • General “Railfanning” – Photography various Great Lakes locations (US, Canada) – College Tour for SAE chapter of Algoma Central Railway roundhouse & shops – Ham Radio License • Tourist / Museum Railroad Operations – T&E service – Mechanical Dept. • Equipment Operator – Boom truck, Fork Lift, Front End Loader » CDL and operating experience from college summer jobs • Locomotive Wiring – Combining railroading interests with electrical education & experience
  11. 11. The Road Less Travelled: Entrance into C&S Career Path • Tourist / Museum → Short Line / Industrial – “Utility Worker” • T&E • MoW • Mechanical • Loss of Engineering Work → Job Search – Class I T&E (no offers) – Short Line, Regional T&E (no offers) – Class I signal department (hired) • Commercial Driver’s License • Recent electrical experience • Promotion potential
  12. 12. The Road Less Travelled: C&S Career Path Continues • Class I signalman – Pole Line Elimination – “Flasher gang” as necessary – Furloughing began • Another Class I hiring signalmen in area – Leveraged network (“know people who know people”) – Discussed technician’s job during interview – Out-of-town gang with “old school” foreman – Bid tech’s job at earliest possible opportunity
  13. 13. The Road Less Travelled: C&S Career Path Continues • Class I signal electronics technician – Required written exam for bid – “Monthly rated” (salaried, overtime Sundays) – Supported • Six maintainers • One signal inspector (testman) • One signal construction gang • Territory profile – Double main line with CTC – Between 50-60 trains per day – Nearly 90 miles end-to-end – Located in two states
  14. 14. The Road Less Travelled: C&S Career Path Continues • Class I signal & communications supervisor – Responsible for coordinating, coaching, testing • 10 signal maintainers • 2 relief signal maintainers • 3 communications technicians • 2 signal testmen (inspectors) • One signal construction gang • Territory profile – Single and double main line with CTC, two branch lines – Between 50-60 trains per day – Over 150 miles end-to-end – Located in one state
  15. 15. The Road Less Travelled: C&S Career Path Continues • Work for engineering firms • Two six-month engagements – Perform QA review of signal circuit plans • Highway-rail grade crossing warning systems • Signal system upgrades • Hump yard communication systems – Systems assessment, preliminary engineering
  16. 16. The Road Less Travelled: C&S Career Path Today Self-employed (ESCORRT LLC) Signal Design Principal – Client base – Industry Affiliations • railroads • AREMA – Committee 36 • transit operators (Highway-Rail Grade • engineering firms Crossing Warning • government agencies Systems) – Committee 37 (Signal Systems) – C&S Services – Committee 39 • Systems design (Positive Train Control) • Maintenance planning – quot;Introduction to Practical Railway Engineeringquot; • Construction QA seminar delivery team • Contract management • Training of field forces • Operation Lifesaver – volunteer presenter
  17. 17. The View From Here
  18. 18. The View From Here • Challenges in Recruitment • Challenges in Training • Challenges in Retention
  19. 19. The View From Here : Challenges in Recruitment • “An Invisible Industry” • Experience, training from other industries – Post WWII • Certifications • 1 in 4 employed ISCET ETA – Today • nearing 1 in 40 NCSA/ESPA Microsoft – “You do what? Where? • Licensing WHY?” – FCC – NEC – Inside work – Daylight hours – Predictable work schedule – Frequent relocation not required
  20. 20. The View From Here : Challenges in Recruitment (cont.) • The work doesn’t “sell well” – Outside, all times of day, all types of weather – On call (sometimes 24 / 7 / 365) – Versatility requirements • Drive trucks • Climb poles How many willing and able to do all these? • Dig trenches • Read meters • Shoot trouble – Industries facing similar attrition issue • Telcos • Utilities
  21. 21. The View From Here : Challenges in Training • Railroad Signaling is unique – No other electrical discipline quite like it – Required 6-8 week apprenticeship training – Some positions filled by people “off the street” • Training Barriers (peers, supervisors) – “It’s not my job to teach you yours!” – “You knew that when you bid the job!” • If I teach you what I know, they won’t need me! • I don’t know myself, but I’m not telling YOU that! – “Here’s the keys and cell phone--go get ‘em, killer!” • Don’t get hurt! • Don’t screw up!
  22. 22. The View From Here : Challenges in Training (cont.) • Training materials sparse – Vendor manuals • out of date • too general – Required 6-8 week apprenticeship training – Some positions filled by “off the street” people • Equipment vendors tech support of mixed quality – “Like a box of chocolates…you never know what you’re gonna get!” – Really good techs are promoted or leave company • Frequently encounter techs with little experience • May turn out to be “page flippers”
  23. 23. The View From Here : Challenges in Training (cont.) • Classroom and field training shortcomings – Timeliness • Sometimes comes long before employee can apply knowledge – “Use it or lose it!” • Sometimes occurs after an employee needs it! • Creates scheduling headaches for supervisors – If maintainer, adjoining maintainers do at least 1-1/2 times more work – Relief maintainer may be used, but only during non-vacation periods – If gang job, may leave foreman short resources for key tasks – Subject Matter • Wide variety of signal circuits still in service – Difficult, if not impossible to train on all types of equipment – Obsolescence • Changing technologies will require continual refresher courses in future – Limitations of practicality • Shortage of parts available to build reliable test/training systems • How many maintainers CAN fit into an 8’x8’ house, anyway?
  24. 24. The View From Here : Challenges in Training (cont.) • “Non-traditional” training needs – Not just “old heads”, but new hires too – Computer technology • High-speed Internet connectivity • Email • Acrobat • “Dumb Terminal” • Testing and recordkeeping – Laptop – PDA – Database query – Configuration Management – Risk Assessment – Defect Reporting – Revision Control – Validation/Verification – Safety Plan (railroad, product)
  25. 25. The View From Here : Challenges in Training (cont.) • Training programs required by FRA for future implementations – 49 CFR 236.921 • Training and qualification program, general – 49 CFR 236.923 • Task analysis and basic requirements – 49 CFR 236.925 • Training specific to control office personnel – In conjunction with 49 CFR 217 requirements – 49 CFR 236.927 • Training specific to locomotive engineers… – In conjunction with 49 CFR 240 requirements – 49 CFR 236.929 • Training specific to roadway workers – In conjunction with 49 CFR 214 requirements
  26. 26. The View From Here : Challenges in Retention • Frequent relocation – Craft • Protecting seniority (forced to bid) • Exercising seniority (“bumping”) • Next job may be down the road or halfway across the country • Distinct possibility of numerous relocations given low seniority – Management • Force-assigned as determined by carrier • May be lateral move or punitive assignment • Those with options may exercise them – Back to the craft – Pursue outside opportunities
  27. 27. The View From Here : Challenges in Retention (cont.) • “Where do you want to go today?” – On the gang • Variable work schedules from gang to gang – 4 on / 3 off – 8 on / 6 off – 5 on / 2 off • Possible drive up to 8-10 hours ONE WAY to reach hotel! • Per diems may not account for high-cost areas – Maintainer • Frequently required to live within certain distance of territory • UNPAID move may be required for family • May elect to live in hotel or apartment, but meals and lodging not always paid by carrier
  28. 28. The View From Here : Challenges in Retention (cont.) • “Pressure cooker” culture – Fear • Don’t get hurt • Don’t screw up • If you do either, you must have broken a rule! • “Fair and impartial investigation” – Frequently neither! • Only guaranteed way to avoid is to do nothing! – The Trouble Call • Learn what you’re made of…best training on the planet • Guaranteed to be during: – Dead of night (“2 AM”) » Blowing Snow » Driving Rain » Dense Fog • Difficult to maintain family commitments – Birthday parties – Ball games – Dance recitals • Clinical studies underway regarding work-rest cycles and fatigue
  29. 29. The View From Here : Challenges in Retention (cont.) • “Pressure cooker” culture – Relentless (24 x 7 x 365) • Some in craft are salaried • Having territory with lots of trouble calls pays same as one with few • Reliability of signal system frequently outside signal department influence – Soggy ballast (poor drainage) – Insulated joint breakdown (bad ties) – “track light on” or “island circuit down” (operating crew errors) – Maintenance of systems not regulated by FRA eats up “time” (yard switches, control panels) • When systems in trouble, EVERYONE’s phone rings – Job descriptions mean little – Everyone with a truck who hasn’t “hog-lawed” is fair game
  30. 30. The View From Here : Challenges in Retention (cont.) • “Pressure cooker” culture – The dreaded “efficiency test” • Required by FRA – Demonstrates rules compliance by labor – Demonstrates rules enforcement by management • Not fun for either party (usually) – If used in wrong manner, promotes culture of fear – Senior management sets ET quotas for front line supervisors » Other responsibilities not mitigated » Failure quotas not formalized, but do exist » If everyone passes, then supervisor not doing job right » But what if everyone is indeed working safe?
  31. 31. The View From Here : Challenges in Retention (cont.)
  32. 32. The Path Ahead
  33. 33. The Path Ahead • Enhancing Recruitment • Enhancing Training • Enhancing Retention
  34. 34. The Path Ahead: Enhancing Recruitment • Railroads / Transits enjoy advantages – New hires • More computer literate • More able to work together in teams – Skilled trades availability in certain locations • Michigan / Indiana / Ohio (auto industry downturns) • Florida / Arizona / California (housing market busts) – No longer an “invisible industry” • (Positive) media coverage, advertising on History Channel, CNN, MSNBC, etc. • National elected officials have strong industry ties
  35. 35. The Path Ahead: Enhancing Recruitment (cont.) • Develop recognition of licenses / certifications outside of our industry – “CLEP out” of first week of signal school – Give incentive for not attending • Work with labor to promote and offer – More inside work – More frequent daylight hours – More predictable work schedules – Fewer circumstances requiring relocation
  36. 36. The Path Ahead: Enhancing Recruitment (cont.) • Embrace communities of individuals with affinity / passion for industry, technologies – Railfans (with careful screening) • Trains Magazine – Ham Radio Operators • QST • CQ – Electronics Hobbyists • Nuts & Volts • MAKE Magazine
  37. 37. The Path Ahead: Enhancing Training • Craft • Management “structured progression” “structured progression” – Assistant signalman – Hire from craft, not street! • Can’t find ‘em, build ‘em! – Signalman – Recognize unique Signal & – Assistant maintainer Communications roles – Maintainer – Asst. supervisor FIRST! – Craft leadership – Structured mentoring • Lead Maintainer – Develop and universally • Inspector / Testman implement management • Gang Foreman trainee program • Technician Don’t permit anyone to be “set up” to fail!
  38. 38. The Path Ahead: Enhancing Training (cont.) • “Don’t throw baby out with the bathwater!” – Encourage, reward mentors from craft – Time is of the essence due to attrition! – Enable career progression paths from craft to: • Supervision / Management • Circuit designer / checker • Trainer
  39. 39. The Path Ahead: Enhancing Training (cont.) • Develop plan for training resources – Off site • Buy “in bulk” to help reduce costs • Develop local facility tours • Don’t punish those “left behind” – On site • Make investment in equipment and labor to build – Turnout, switch machine, gate mechs, etc. – Use for reliability testing when no training scheduled • Mimic operation of equipment on actual territory
  40. 40. The Path Ahead: Enhancing Retention • Maintain vertical job categories – Signalmen • Heavy equipment operation • Manual labor • Constant travel – Signal Maintainers • Testing / Inspection / Maintenance • Less physical labor • Much less travel – More “carrot” and less “stick” • Reduce forced assignments to a minimum • Help give financial and time off incentives to make maintaining desirable again
  41. 41. The Path Ahead: Enhancing Retention (cont.) • Change thinking about work / life balance – Provide time off guarantees • Not just during vacations • Assign larger territories to additional people • Each one “backs up” the other – At least one qualified, capable resource available when bad things happen and phone rings – Supervisor / assistant supervisor or supervisor “pool” – Discuss, develop pilot programs with labor for alternative working arrangements • Shift work (with assigned testing responsibilities) • 3 on / 3 off • Establish times of day where phone guaranteed not to ring • Reference new FRA HoS requirements
  42. 42. The Path Ahead: Enhancing Retention (cont.) • Make supervision appealing again – Centralize administrative tasks • Purchasing • Scheduling of coverage • FRA test recordkeeping – Promote from the top down work’s importance • Not overhead, but a vital function • Provides for safe and efficient operation of trains • Benefits employees, company and public at large – Management support at all levels critical!
  43. 43. Today’s Topics The Road Less Travelled The View From Here The Path Ahead
  44. 44. Thank you! “The Human Element—Part 2” Training & Education Challenges for CBTC/PTC Implementations M. J. quot;Markquot; Engels Railroad-Transit Signal Design Principal ESCORRT LLC Fond du Lac, Wisc. USA http://www.escorrtllc.com http://www.linkedin.com/in/mjengels

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