TUC backs motion on closing skills gap

Screenshot of Mick Carney, TSSA president, speaking at TUC Congress 2021

The Trade Union Congress has called on the Government to tackle the skills gap in Britain and boost maritime training.

TSSA president, Mick Carney, gave a strong speech in support of Composite Motion 4, saying “once again the Tories are looking to cut their way out of a crisis in our rail industry" with "narrow minded thinking."

The motion - which can be read here in full - was carried without opposition on the second day of the TUC’s virtual conference. It was proposed by Community, seconded by Nautilus International and supported by UCU as well as TSSA.

Mick Carney told Congress -

“The skills gap in the rail industry is already serious and in the coming few years is likely to reach crisis point. Once again, the Tories are looking to cut their way out of a crisis in our rail industry. Cuts to services and cuts to jobs. Primarily these job cuts are aimed at older workers – and with them go experience and skills which they have failed to replace.

“A recent report by the City and Guilds and National Skills Academy for rail highlights this issue. A potential skills gap with up to 120,000 additional people required over the next 5 to 10 years. And this before any job losses, an ageing workforce where currently up to 30 per cent of staff are over 50.

“There is a clear need to attract more people into the rail industry, not less. You don’t solve a crisis by cutting away clean, green transport links. This is the sort of narrow-minded thinking that has been shown over the years – from Beeching to McNulty and now Shapps/Williams.

“When people do start travelling again after the pandemic, and they will, we need a rail industry fit to meet that demand. Please support.”

TSSA General Secretary, Manuel Cortes, said he was pleased to see the motion supported by Congress. “It’s vital that as we come out of the shadow of this terrible pandemic we have a rail industry fighting fit to face the future.

“Without doubt planned Tory cuts and the loss of skills which go with them will hamper the wider recovery from Covid. Our railways will be vital in the coming years – and we need a Government which understands this point.

“If Ministers need further illustration, they should pause and consider the way rail was key to allowing key workers to get to and from their jobs throughout this crisis.”

TSSA members attending a rally

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