Southern California Regional Workforce Development Needs Assessment for the Transportation and Supply Chain Industry Sectors

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Southern California Regional Workforce Development Needs Assessment for the Transportation and Supply Chain Industry Sectors


COVID-19 brought the public’s attention to the critical value of transportation and supply chain workers as lifelines to access food and other supplies. This report examines essential job skills required of the middle-skill workforce (workers with more than a high school degree, but less than a four-year college degree). Many of these middle-skill transportation and supply chain jobs are what the Federal Reserve Bank defines as “opportunity occupations” -- jobs that pay above median wages and can be accessible to those without a four-year college degree. This report lays out the complex landscape of selected technological disruptions of the supply chain to understand the new workforce needs of these middle-skill workers, followed by competencies identified by industry. With workplace social distancing policies, logistics organizations now rely heavily on data management and analysis for their operations. All rungs of employees, including warehouse workers and truck drivers, require digital skills to use mobile devices, sensors, and dashboards, among other applications. Workforce training requires a focus on data, problem solving, connectivity, and collaboration. Industry partners identified key workforce competencies required in digital literacy, data management, front/back office jobs, and in operations and maintenance. Education and training providers identified strategies to effectively develop workforce development programs. This report concludes with an exploration of the role of Institutes of Higher Education in delivering effective workforce education and training programs that reimagine how to frame programs to be customizable, easily accessible, and relevant.


Thomas O’Brien, PhD
Dr. Thomas O’Brien is the Executive Director of the Center for International Trade and Transportation (CITT) at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) and the Deputy Director of Long Beach Programs for the METRANS Transportation Center, a partnership between CSULB and the University of Southern California. He also serves as the Director of the FHWA Southwest Transportation Workforce Center (SWTWC). He previously served as CITT’s Director of Research.

Dr. O’Brien is an instructor in CSULB’s Master of Science in Supply Chain Management (MSSCM). Dr. O’Brien is a member of the Executive Committee of the Council of University Transportation Centers (CUTC), where he serves as President and is a member of the CUTC Workforce Development Taskforce and Chair of the oversight committee of the National Science Foundation’s National Center for Supply Chain Technology Education. He is a member of the Transportation Research Board’s Intermodal Freight Transport Committee and Urban Freight and Operations Committee. He also serves on the Boards of the Southern California Roundtable of the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals, Los Angeles Transportation Club, Foreign Trade Association, and National Transit Institute.

Dr. O’Brien has a Master’s degree in Urban Planning and Development and a PhD in Policy, Planning, and Development from the University of Southern California. He is both an Eno and an Eisenhower Transportation Fellow.

Deanna Matsumoto
Deanna Matsumoto is the Education and Workforce Development Analyst for CITT. She supports the Center’s programmatic efforts in workforce development, policy analysis, inclusive programming, project management, curricular and instructional development, and white paper development. Ms. Matsumoto is currently Project Manager of the Southern California Regional Workforce Development Needs Assessment for the Transportation and Supply Chain Industry Sectors, funded by the California State University Transportation Consortium (CSUTC), which is led by the Mineta Transportation Institute, and the California Sustainable Freight Action Plan Workforce Development Pilot Project funded by the California Energy Commission and the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development. 

Diana Sanchez
Diana Sanchez is a Research Associate at the Center for International Trade and Transportation (CITT). She graduated from California State University, Long Beach with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics. She has contributed toward several projects including the California Sustainable Freight Action Plan: Workforce Development for California Energy Commission; she studied the skills gap among transportation incumbents and helped craft the Sustainable Freight Foundations Certificate Pilot Project to eliminate the gap. In recognition of this work, she received the Intermodal Association of North America scholarship to study chassis management. She is the lead publishing author for the article “Where do Females Rise to Leader- ship Positions? A Cross-Sector Analysis,” a paper published in Applied Economics Letters which supports the existence of a “glass cliff.” Apart from conducting research at CITT, Diana enjoys analyzing data and has observed: (1) successful nonprofit campaign characteristics achieved by utilizing data from Twitter, and (2) patent trends in relation to human migration frequency.

Caitlin Mace
Caitlin Mace is a Research Assistant at the Center for International Trade and Transportation (CITT). She has a Bachelor’s in psychology and is working toward her Master’s in philosophy at California State University, Long Beach. She co-authored a Highway Construction Work- force Pilot Apprenticeship Development Guide as well as participating in semi-structured interviews with workforce development boards and industry associations. She has also developed a guide for conducting interviews and focus groups in accordance with best practices for CITT.

Elizabeth Warren
Elizabeth Warren is the Senior Industry Liaison for the Center of International Trade and Transportation at California State University Long Beach, where she is focused on using her 25+ years’ experience in the goods movement and logistics industry to provide outreach and facilitate partnerships between industry stakeholders and the CITT. She is the former Executive Director of FuturePorts, a nonprofit advocacy group in Southern California, and was the Public Policy Manager for transportation and environment at the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce. Prior to her career in public policy, she worked in the civil engineering and construction industry for several global engineering firms, where she acquired expertise on national port, railroad, and transportation projects. Elizabeth is an instructor in the Global Logistics Professional program at CPIE and also teaches at Long Beach City College. She has served on the CITT Policy and Steering Committee for 12 years, is Chair of the Academy of Global Logistics at Cabrillo High School (Long Beach Unified School District), and was appointed to the Los Angeles County Commission on Women. Elizabeth has earned Master’s degrees in Global Public Policy from both the University of Southern California and the University of Hong Kong, graduating with distinction, as well as a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Pepperdine University.

Eleni Hala
Eleni Hala is a Research Associate for the Center for International Trade and Transportation (CITT). She is completing her last semester toward a Bachelor's in Business Administration with a focus on Management at California State University, Long Beach. She assisted in developing a project database and supported in-depth interviewing with industry and education/training partners. Eleni enjoys learning about the future of transportation, including public transportation, and she is currently working on research regarding COVID-19 lockdowns and providing information for an article.

Tyler Reeb, PhD
Dr. Tyler Reeb is the Director of Research and Workforce Development for CITT and the Associate Director of the Federal Highway Administration’s Southwest Transportation Workforce Center housed at CITT. He also serves as the Editor of METRANS NEWS, a tri-quarterly publication that summarizes METRANS research, education, and outreach efforts.

Dr. Reeb leads research teams who address challenges and opportunities related to the new mobility workforce, transformational technology, institutional change, organizational management, and transportation systems management operations (TSM&O). He draws from industry benchmarking, labor market analysis, future scenario planning, systems thinking, enterprise resource planning, and GIS tools to produce research-driven reports, articles/white papers, books, and multimedia products that promote innovation and civic partnerships between leaders in business, government, and education.

Dr. Reeb was the lead author for a successful $1.5 million FHWA grant application to fund deployment of the National Transportation Career Pathway Initiative. He is a member of two National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine standing committees focused on Transportation Education & Training and Native American Transportation Issues. Dr. Reeb has a Bachelor’s in English Literature and Mass Media and a PhD in English with an emphasis in Transdisciplinary Research Methods.

October 2020
Workforce development
Technological innovations and integration
Skills gap
Education and training



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