February 17, 2021

Cortez Masto: We Must Grow & Modernize Our Transportation Workforce for a 21st-Century Economy

Las Vegas, Nev. – Today, U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) introduced the Transportation Opportunities for Professional Service (TOPS) Act, legislation aimed at developing a 21st-century transportation workforce through federal training and educational programs. The TOPS Act directs the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) to create a task force to conduct an assessment of the current state of the transportation workforce and develop strategies to improve and diversify it. It also directs DOT to expand 21st-century transportation jobs by increasing expertise in cyber security and other emerging technologies.

“As our economy continues to modernize, we must ensure that our workers have the training necessary to further their careers and keep pace with the jobs of a 21st-century economy. From developing an innovative transportation agenda to increasing career recruitment and retention, my bill makes advances to current workforce programs. I’m committed to working toward a future where Nevada workers remain competitive and trained for 21st-century jobs, while also ensuring they have the resources to succeed today and tomorrow.”


Since coming to Congress, Senator Cortez Masto has focused on supporting workforce development as part of her Innovation State Initiative. Most recently, she introduced her Working On Rewarding and Keeping Employees Resilient (WORKER) Act that will ensure employees have access to good-paying careers in skilled jobs throughout Nevada and the nation. In 2018, she passed aspects of her bipartisan Safe DRONE Act, including efforts to expand specific training for those seeking opportunities for jobs in unmanned aircraft system. The Senator has also been a vocal advocate for a significant infrastructure package to enhance roads and increase broadband access for Nevadans, while providing work to our vital construction and building trades. 

The Transportation Opportunities for Professional Service (TOPS) Act would: 

  • Direct the Department of Transportation (DOT) to create a task force on developing a 21st-century surface transportation workforce to conduct an assessment of the current and projected state of the transportation workforce, including any existing barriers to attracting, developing, training, or retaining a skilled transportation workforce and develop recommendations and strategies for DOT and states to improve the transportation workforce based on such assessment. 
  • Direct the DOT to establish a program to provide competitive grants to institutions of higher education, states, and other partnerships to support transportation sector education and workforce development projects that are: 
    • Developing innovative transportation programs of study;
    • Training educators to teach courses with respect to a transportation sector,;
    • Increasing career recruitment and outreach to youth;
    • Developing on-the-job training and work-based learning opportunities, including apprenticeship-readiness programs and registered apprenticeships; and 
    • Increasing participation of underrepresented individuals, including women.
  • Focus DOT authority and efforts to establish a trained and diverse workforce to address emerging technologies, including the cyber security expertise needed to address them.
  • Direct the DOT to establish and administer a transportation workforce outreach program to increase awareness of transportation career opportunities and increase diversity in race, gender, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status of professionals in the transportation sector.