Union Pacific intends to double the number of women in its workforce within the next 10 years. To help do this, the railroad is partnering with The Manufacturing Institute (MI) -- the National Association of Manufacturers’ workforce development and education partner -- on a $3 million, three-year joint initiative called Careers on Track.
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The initiative is designed to inspire more women and youth to pursue modern industry careers through workforce development and career solutions that will include:
- A new digital STEM curriculum;
- A virtual STEM experience—in which participants can “choose their own adventure” while exploring interactive 3D models of a real facility, locomotive and more;
- A STEM micro-grant program for young people; and
- A digital campaign showcasing industry career opportunities for underserved women in select regions.
“These types of partnerships are important for us because they broaden our reach,” said UP’s Beth Whited, executive vice president and Chief Human Resource officer. “We run pilot programs of our own, but it’s difficult for us to make those available in every school in our served territory. With the MI’s broad reach and established programs, we can reach more women and youth than we could on our own."
Nearly everything in a typical home moves by rail at some point, whether as a raw material or as a finished product. That also means there is a wide range of jobs involved, from skilled roles in transportation and manufacturing to civil, electrical and computer engineering jobs that involve designing more fuel-efficient locomotives or building the freight cars of the future.
“People who don’t know much about railroads are always surprised by the level of high tech that’s employed,” Whited said. “You’ve got unbelievable signaling systems that run everything safely, next-level optimization tools that determine how and when trains run, sophisticated technology in the 4,500-horsepower locomotives that we use to haul freight and so much more.”
“There are nearly 500,000 job openings right now in manufacturing and millions more expected over the next decade. Closing the gender gap and building awareness with young people are critical to meeting this incredible need.”
Whited challenged women who are unsure about working in a traditionally male-dominated field. “There aren’t jobs that are for men and jobs that are for women; there are jobs -- and these are great jobs with great benefits that will help you fulfill your goals and give you a sense of pride. Come try it.”
MI Executive Director Carolyn Lee agreed, “There are nearly 500,000 job openings right now in manufacturing and millions more expected over the next decade,” she said. “Closing the gender gap and building awareness with young people are critical to meeting this incredible need.”