Tackling Transportation Barriers in Workforce Development

The Atlanta region’s economy is booming. According to the latest employment forecast from the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC), metro Atlanta will add 856,000 jobs between now and 2050, bringing the total count to 4.6 million. But a thriving job market also brings to light a critical question: How do we ensure that the region’s workforce is aware of these opportunities, are equipped with the right skills, and, crucially, able to access them?

ARC’s Workforce Solutions Division and Mobility Services Group are working to answer these exact questions. They develop strategies to better integrate commute options with workforce and economic development. Additionally, they collaborate with a network of regional organizations aimed at improving job seekers’ access to employment opportunities.

We recently spoke with one of these organizations, CareerRise, to discuss the commuting factor and how programs like Georgia Commute Options can provide solutions to address this common barrier. Nate Futrell, the Director of Industry Partnerships at CareerRise, shared insights on how addressing transportation challenges can significantly improve workforce development efforts and ensure that the booming economy benefits everyone.

Q&A With CareerRise

How do transportation challenges impact job seekers in Atlanta?

Transportation is a significant hurdle. Many job seekers struggle with the costs of owning a vehicle or the limitations of public transit systems. This creates a Catch-22 where you need a job to afford a car, but you need a car to get to many jobs. It’s crucial for access to employment opportunities that we address these transportation barriers comprehensively.

What types of transportation solutions support workforce development in the region?

We see a lot of value in developing holistic solutions that include public transit improvements, ridesharing initiatives and basic information sharing to make sure people know how to use the options that are available. These efforts not only help people get to work but also improve their overall job satisfaction and well-being.

Could you share how organizations like CareerRise can work with local businesses to implement effective commute solutions?

One approach has been to partner with businesses to enhance transit access. For example, we’ve seen companies work with local transit operators to bring stops closer to workplaces. This not only benefits the employees but also the businesses by widening the talent pool that can reliably commute to their locations.

Looking ahead, what do you see as the primary challenges and opportunities for integrating TDM into workforce development strategies?

The main challenge is ensuring that transportation solutions are equitable and accessible to all workers, especially those in lower-income brackets who may not have reliable access to personal vehicles. However, this also presents an opportunity to innovate and collaborate across sectors to create a more inclusive and accessible transportation network that supports our workforce.

Finally, for organizations looking to improve their commuting policies, what initial steps would you recommend?

Start by engaging with your employees to understand their commuting challenges and needs. That’s a perfect place to start working with Georgia Commute Options. From there, consider a range of solutions, from enhancing public transit access to providing information and support for modes like carpooling and telecommuting. Being proactive in addressing these issues can significantly impact employee satisfaction and retention.

Georgia Commute Options—a program made possible by the Atlanta Regional Commission and Georgia Department of Transportation—works with employers at no cost to develop commuter programs that move the needle on air quality in the Atlanta region. Let’s discuss how we can help.