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Denver’s innovative WIN program takes a bow on the national stage

Boston, other transportation agencies around the country follow RTD’s lead

WIN ON THE RISE – Workforce Initiative Now (WIN) Manager Martell Dyles oversees RTD’s innovative
workforce training program, which has become a national model since its 2011 inception.
(RTD Photo by Paul Wedlake)

It’s not every day a city can lay claim to building a program so compelling that other cities want to emulate it, but that’s exactly what is happening with Workforce Initiative Now or WIN, the job training initiative developed by Denver’s Regional Transportation District.

Established by RTD in 2011, WIN continues to build on its growing reputation as the industry benchmark for training skilled workers for the transportation industry.

The regional program, funded in part by a Federal Transit Administration grant, partnered with the Community College of Denver, Denver Transit Partners and other private companies and government agencies to train people to work on construction, transportation and public infrastructure projects. Learn more about RTD’s innovative WIN program

Now peer agencies around the country are following RTD’s lead.

Since WIN’s inception, 388 people have landed jobs that have kick-started their careers or have enrolled in advanced training opportunities for incumbent employees.

As the demand for more and better public transportation rises in the United States over the coming years, the need for mechanics, track operators and other skilled employees is likely to increase, too, said Martell Dyles, who manages the WIN program for RTD.

Our country is experiencing a public transportation renaissance,” Dyles said. “Americans want more commuting options and it is incumbent upon RTD and other transit agencies to develop the skilled employees we need to keep our systems safe and in good working condition.”

Other cities emulate our model

The collaborative workforce training model is so successful, in fact, that other transit agencies are taking notice. In June, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation and the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority started MassWIN in Boston after meeting with RTD leadership. Los Angeles transportation executives visited Denver recently to identify best practices for their own program.

We expect other cities to emulate our model, and that’s a huge point of pride for RTD,” said RTD General Manager and CEO Phil Washington, a military veteran and Chicago native who led the charge on WIN’s creation to promote career growth in the Denver metro region. “Every chance I get I share our success stories with my peers and offer up our program as an example of regional collaboration.”

A regional partnership

To get WIN off the ground, and recognizing that workforce development was a major goal for the FTA and the Federal Highway Administration, RTD convened a Regional Interagency Sustainable Communities (RISCO) Partnership to better coordinate efforts among many regional agencies.

Agencies involved with the effort include RTD; the FTA, Region 8; the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development; the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; the Colorado Department of Transportation; Community College of Denver; the City and County of Denver’s Office of Economic Development; the Denver and Lakewood public housing authorities; the Colorado Workforce Development Council; and the Urban League of Metro Denver.

Public-private partnerships, or P3s as they are known, have been keys to RTD’s success. They are among the project delivery models RTD is implementing to complete high-profile transportation projects such as the renovation of Denver’s historic Union Station and Eagle P3, the largest transit P3 in U.S. history. Learn more about Eagle P3 project

Eagle P3 contractor Denver Transit Partners is building out three commuter rail projects for RTD – including a line to Denver International Airport – and partnered with RTD to make WIN a reality. In a show of confidence, the contractor has hired several WIN graduates to work on its projects.

Dyles said WIN’s success is founded on a business model that rewards regional collaboration and partnerships and leverages existing training providers to identify, assess, train and place people in transportation and mixed-use employment.

By training skilled workers, we are not only growing the local workforce, but strengthening the entire community,” Dyles said. “I can’t think of better reasons to come to work every day.”

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