The Future Transport Visions Group (FVTG) encourages early career professionals across the transport industry to explore the challenges and opportunities posed by ongoing changes in the world around them. Its competition has been open for Expressions of Interest since December 2023 and will be looking to showcase its successful projects in summer 2025.
The FVTG programme is run by volunteers and is targeted at those in the first ten years of their career across all sectors in the transport industry. Ed Downer has been the FVTG coordinator for four years, seeing it through several rounds of the competition. With new responsibilities on the horizon, Ed is stepping down from his role and FVTG are now seeking new volunteers to take his, and other positions on the committee, forward.
All the volunteer roles offered by the FVTG give professionals the chance to do something that they might not do in their everyday work. Alongside the coordinator role, FVTG is also looking for a volunteer treasurer and a communications officer
“Working with the FVTG is a great opportunity,” says Ed. “I’ve found my time with them to be a refreshing change to my day job as a transport planner. My background is in professional services, so it's not every day I’ve been given the opportunity to run a research initiative.
"I’ve developed a lot of new skills and improved my project management experience, as well as getting quite a bit of exposure across the industry. As the FVTG coordinator I often get invited to attend networking events and conferences, which has been really helpful for me in my career.”
For Ed, the special and rather unique aspect of the FVTG is its ability to bring together young professionals from a variety of backgrounds and from a variety of careers. “Helping them to work together in areas of common interest is really rewarding.
"I’ve seen people that wouldn't necessarily work together, or collaborate together, and end up delivering something very special and innovative. With comparatively little support, and comparatively little funding, the people we’ve funded have managed to produce products that have had a huge impact on the industry.”
Ordinarily, he adds, as a young professional, you might not get the opportunity to access research funding and to try something new. “The FVTG competition gives people a chance to take something that they’re really interested in, to run with it and hopefully get it out there for the wider benefit of the sector.”
Supporting the FVTG initiative is also a great way for smaller organisations, or those who don’t have the resources to run formal staff development programmes, to offer career development opportunities to their employees.
“When applying for the funding, we make it clear from the outset that this is a voluntary undertaking, and it’s up to individual employers as to how much support they can offer. We do provide some support to cover labour costs, but it can't be any more than 50% of the overall funding.
“Ideally, I'd love it if employers would be able to carve out one day each week, or even half a day each week, to enable their early career professionals to engage in this type of initiative. It would be great to see support from the transport sector’s professional institutions as well, because I think collaborative volunteering of this type provides excellent value in terms of career development and the networking opportunities are also pretty impactful.”
All the volunteer roles offered by the FVTG give professionals the chance to do something that they might not do in their everyday work. Alongside the coordinator role, FVTG is also looking for a volunteer treasurer and a communications officer.
Says Ed: “If you're a young professional and you haven’t had much experience in managing budgets, for example, this is a perfect opportunity to gain that experience whilst doing something voluntary, becoming part of a project team and delivering something special which you can take away and manage by yourself.”
Last but certainly not least, FVTG is also looking for individuals to become non-executive members of its committee. “In these instances, says Ed, “we pair up new members with a group that aligns with their area of interest or expertise.
"We start by collating all expressions of interest into common themes, host collaboration workshops and eventually may see two or three project ideas emerge from each workshop. If these projects go on to be awarded funding, our mentors play an important role in guiding them through the process and bouncing ideas around with the project team.”
“So even if you can’t commit to taking on one of the more executive roles within the committee, there's still plenty of opportunity to get involved with something that benefits the wider sector.”
Previous winners of the FVTG initiative include:
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