Commenting on the 'Back on Track' report by City & Guilds and the National Skills Academy for Rail (NSAR) which was published today, rail union TSSA says the government and industry should "act now" to avoid a skills gap and become more inclusive.
The report highlights a potential skills shortfall, with up to 120,000 additional people required over the next 5 - 10 years, and an ageing workforce where over 28% of workers in the current rail workforce are over the age of 51. The report also identified a failure to attract a diverse workforce, with only 16% of the rail workforce is female and nearly one in four women (24%) would consider a career in rail.
Welcoming the report, Manuel Cortes, TSSA General Secretary, said:
"This is a revealing report which exposes the challenges that our rail industry faces in terms of a potential skills shortage and lack of diversity in the workforce. It also highlights significant opportunities for skills, training, targeted recruitment and job creation.
"I urge the government and industry leaders to take on board the report’s recommendations and act now to prevent a skills gap opening across our rail industry. Clean, accessible travel on public transport must be a core part of our future infrastructure and way of life and investing in railway staff is crucial to its success.
"As this report rightly identifies, there is a clear need to attract new people to our industry due to skills shortages and that means it is imperative that our rail industry becomes more inclusive. There is an opportunity to take action now through providing training and recruitment opportunities to ensure we have the skilled workforce our railways need and at the same provide quality jobs in a diverse workforce."
TSSA has members across the rail industry, including in Network Rail, HS2, a wide variety of Train Operating Companies and transport authorities, such as Transport for London. TSSA works closely with the NSAR, including sitting on their board. Last week, NSAR Chief Executive Neil Robinson was interviewed for a TSSA anti-bullying conference vent in which the lack of training for managers was raised an issue for the industry.
TSSA research shows a strong desire from those in the rail industry to be able to identify career paths and get appropriate training to pursue those dreams. Our research suggests that focusing on up-skilling and developing the existing workforce and giving them opportunities to participate in apprenticeships (without loss of pay) and developmental training would be widely welcomed and provide an effective way of addressing skills issues.