Estimating Workforce Development Needs for High-Speed Rail in California

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Estimating Workforce Development Needs for High-Speed Rail in California


This study provides an assessment of the job creation and attendant education and training needs associated with the creation of the California High-Speed Rail (CHSR) network, scheduled to begin construction in September 2012. Given the high profile of national and state commitment to the project, a comprehensive analysis that discusses the education, training, and related needs created during the build out of the CHSR network is necessary. This needs assessment is achieved by means of: 1) analyzing current high-speed rail specific challenges pertaining to 220mph trains; 2) using a more accurate and robust “bottom-up” approach to estimate the labor, education, skills, and knowledge needed to complete the CHSR network; and 3) assessing the current capacity of railroad-specific training and education in the state of California and the nation. Through these analyses, the study identifies the magnitude and attributes of the workforce development needs and challenges that lie ahead for California.

The results of this research offer new insight into the training and education levels likely to be needed for the emergent high-speed rail workforce, including which types of workers and professionals are needed over the life of the project (by project phase), and their anticipated educational level. Results indicates that although the education attained by the design engineers of the system signifies the most advanced levels of education in the workforce, this group is comparatively small over the life of the project. Secondly, this report identifies vast training needs for the construction workforce and higher education needs for a managerial construction workforce. Finally, the report identifies an extremely limited existing capacity for training and educating the high-speed rail workforce in both California and in the U.S. generally.



Peter J. Haas is a Professor in the Department of Political Science at San José State University and also serves as Education Director for the Mineta Transportation Institute. The author of numerous scholarly and professional articles, he earned a PhD in Political Science (concentration in Public Policy and Public Administration) from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1985. A former director of the SJSU Master of Public Administration program, he also has consulted at every level of government and for various nonprofit agencies. Dr. Haas has authored and co-authored numerous reports and other publications covering transportation and is co-author of the text Applied Policy Research: Concepts and Cases. In 2003, he received a Senior Specialist grant from the Fulbright Foundation to teach and study in Latvia.


Paul Hernandez is a Research Associate with Mineta Transportation Institute. He holds a Master of Pacific International Affairs degree from the Graduate School of International Relations and Pacific Studies (IR/PS), from the University of California, San Diego, with focus on transportation policy and analysis. He also holds a Politics BA from University of California, Santa Cruz. His research interests include state, national, and international high-speed rail systems, as well as the emerging transportation infrastructure and technology initiatives in California. He is currently working as a consultant on FRA high-speed rail projects, and advising transportation technology start-up firms.


Katherine Estrada recently earned her Master of Public Administration degree from San José State University. She previously served as a research assistant while earning her undergraduate degree in Political Science from the University of California, Los Angeles. Currently employed by the City of San José, her research interests include transportation and land use planning.

March 2012
Persons by educational level
Education and training
Regional railroads
Research and educational facilities



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