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THE VIEW Australasian Perspective Prof Phil Charles


Where will future capable traffic and public transport professionals gain their skills and knowledge?


Phil Charles is Professor of Transport at the University of Queensland, Brisbane. p.charles@uq.edu.au http://transport-futures.com


A


ustralian traffic and public transport professionals primarily gain their


specialised skills and knowledge from on-the-job training. Tey enter the field of transport


from a variety of starting points – civil engineering, business, town planning, electronics, economics, mathematics and social sciences, among others. All of these starting points only provide a smattering of transport, less than a tenth of the civil engineering course, for example. Tere are very limited postgraduate


transport courses available to build specialised knowledge in traffic and public transport; in capital cities around Australia there are some part- time on-campus courses locally and only one that I know of is available by external or distance mode. Tere are also international


e-learning courses available, such as the US based Consortium for ITS Training and Education. Once engaged in your transport


career, there are only a few quality continuing professional development courses available in traffic and public transport planning, management and operations and certainly none with a structured program to build a rounded professional. Building the capability of future transport professionals is a major issue. Professional associations like


the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport, Australia (CILTA) are seeking to accredit continuing professional development courses, and while they have a number


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in logistics, there are very few in traffic and public transport. Te demographics of traffic and


public transport staff indicate a worrying trend: a large number of experienced professionals will retire over the next decade and the following age groups won’t fill the void. Employers have an obligation to


provide their staff with education and training, either directly or by funding external training. In the current challenging fiscal climate Australian transport agencies have dramatically cut their training budgets. Tis is the time to be building capability not cutting training budgets. So the current outlook for


the development of transport professionals in Australia is not very rosy. Tere are few education and training opportunities at entry level or for ongoing development, plus there is a shortage of developing professionals together with a reduction in training budgets. So, what other developments


are happening in the professional education sector that may provide some future hope for developing transport professionals?


NEW PLATFORMS Tere has been a recent explosion of online courses, both free and paid, in general education. Te MOOC (massive open online courses) development has examples where free courses such as the Stanford University experience in 2011 where they launched three courses, each of which had an enrolment of around 100,000 students! Tis led


thinkinghighways.com ❝ The


demographics of traffic and public transport staff indicate a worrying trend: a large number of experienced professionals will retire over the next decade and the following age groups won’t fill the void





to the establishment of a number of course platforms such as Coursera and edX in the US and others worldwide. It is early days with these


developments, and they pose a number of challenges, particularly the very low completion rates (less than 10 per cent) and the difficulty of assessment… and you won’t find any traffic or public transport topics among them. Te other recent development in


continuing professional development is the move away from recording attendance for continuing professional development, such as at a seminar or conference, to demonstrating the achievement of learning outcomes. One such development is the


emergence of digital badges, such as Mozilla’s Open Badges, where a validated indicator of learning can be earned and digitally recorded, for example on LinkedIn. Tis is the virtual descendant of the physical scout badge many of us will be familiar with. Tese are essentially micro-


credits that could help a professional demonstrate the range of skills and expertise they have been able to develop, as an alternative or adjunct to formal study. Te Chronicle of Higher Education noted in a recent article that more and more online educational websites are adopting badges to mark achievement. Te answer to addressing the looming


shortage of traffic and public transport professionals is this: employers should encourage the development of structured programmes of continuing professional development by providing funding to their staff for training and accepting a range of verification and certification alternatives – from digital badges through to formal graduate qualifications.


Vol 8 No 2 Europe/Rest of the World


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