New York State has emerged as a national leader on electric school buses, which has unlocked new opportunities for current and future workers in school transportation services. It has bold plans to require all new school buses purchase to be zero-emission by 2027 and to achieve 100% zero-emission school buses by 2035. With roughly 50,000 school bus workers, scaling up and skilling up require tremendous investments in programs for drivers, mechanics, dispatchers, installers, electricians, administrators, and scores of other occupations.
The transition to electric school buses will not be easy. But with adequate resources and able partners, we can ensure a Just Transition through workforce development that provides strong labor standards, high quality in-demand training, and equitable access to the jobs powered by electric school buses in New York State.
The Workforce Development Institute is uniquely positioned to aid the state in its transition to electric vehicles. We bring a statewide perspective, connections to labor unions and employers, and a proven track record of supporting high-road workforce programming. With our network of partners, we are well-equipped to meet the emerging workforce needs of school bus electrification in ways that allow incumbent workers to advance along with their industry and that open doors for disadvantaged populations.
In 2022, we published Workforce Strategies for Clean School Buses report, describing some of the basic differences between combustion-engine and battery-electric buses, and how work will be impacted in the transition. In response to our research and insights from partners, we are developing a no-cost familiarization training on the basics of electric school buses. The course will introduce the technology to all school bus workers and help them prepare for the transition before they receive product-specific training from bus manufacturers.
This training is designed to inform and prepare drivers, bus aides, mechanics, technicians, and dispatchers for this new technology. It will demystify the basics of battery-electric school buses through engaging content on key topic areas like electrical theory, fundamentals of battery-electric motor systems, charging considerations, and more importantly, safety. WDI’s battery-electric bus familiarization training will complement other learning offerings from unions, manufacturers, and school districts.
The scale and scope of New York’s zero-emission school bus goals can seem daunting. With targeted, high-quality, no-cost training resources, our aim is to turn trepidation into enthusiasm around this technological transition. We know New York’s pupil transportation workforce is up to the challenge of ridding the state’s fleet of emissions in favor of cleaner, safer communities. WDI is a partner for this workforce and we’re actively developing training resources to equip them for the task.
Module 1 – Basics of Electrical Theory
Module 2 – Battery-Electric School Buses 101
Module 3 – Charging Considerations
Module 4 – Safety Around Electric School Buses