Mind the Skills Gap

Jun 29, 2017

There’s been a lot of talk over the past few years about the growing skills gap within the engineering and construction industries. Although the rail industry is experiencing its highest level of investment since the Victorian era, the skills gap is still apparent.

What should be an exciting time for the rail industry could end up posing an air of uncertainty due to the lack of skilled workers to complete projects. With an ageing workforce, a need for new skills and technologies, and a lack of diversity compared with other sectors, rail is heading for a significant skills shortage.

It’s estimated that in conventional rail, the number of engineering and technical workers will need to grow by 900 by 2020. In high speed rail, this figure is closer to 7,200 workers in the same timeframe.

So, what exactly can we be doing to help bridge the growing skills gap and keep the rail sector on track?

Train our future

One thing that we are already seeing is the increase in apprenticeship schemes across the rail industry. Although this is not an instant fix to the current skills gap, it will dramatically increase the number of young people entering the profession, giving us the foundation for a strong future workforce.

Educate and Encourage

Apprenticeships are great, but what use do they have if we are not encouraging the next generation to take them? We need to be educating and encouraging the younger generation towards STEM related subjects.

A career in rail can hold a whole range of different paths and opportunities, and this needs to be properly communicated to young people. Let’s shout about the exciting projects that are planned for the future and inspire the young workforce to want to be part of it.

Transferrable skills and experience

As demand for highly skilled workers continues to rise, employers and recruiters will need to start looking elsewhere for candidates. Whilst there are certain skills specific to sectors, there are plenty of others that are easily transferrable.

Engineers who have a strong mix of analytical and vocational skills could take on a role within vehicle and signaling engineering, and for more design based roles, those who have mechanical and electrical experience with a strong grasp of engineer principles would excel.

Invest in the existing workforce

Within many industries, technological advancements have had a huge impact on the staff and their jobs. Rail is no different. As technologies and systems change and develop, it is vital to ensure we are investing in the training of our current workforce alongside this.

Investing in the training of those already in the industry will not only benefit the staff, due to new employment opportunities from their growing skill set, but it will help bridge the skills gap by ensuring workers are trained to the best of their ability.

Despite the growing skills gap, our expert rail team are seeing no shortage of positions available on new and exciting projects. If you would like to see what roles we currently have live, head over to our website or get in touch with one of our expert consultants on 01489 774 010.

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