The jobs forecast
Source: Rail Technology Magazine Apr/May 2012
Despite some of the controversies in the rail industry at the moment on major projects and on cost-cutting – notably debates around customer-facing staff at stations – the wider picture over the next few years is going to be one of growth.
With ever-rising passenger numbers – touch wood – and a succession of projects coming up which will require thousands of skilled workers, with Crossrail, GWML electrification and then HS2 to name just some, the forecasts are that we’ll need more trained people, and that they have the potential to carve a career in this industry, not just join it for one job and then leave.
So it’s satisfying to be able to report in depth this edition on the progress being made by NSARE in developing an updated and sophisticated skills forecasting model, alongside its work on establishing a National Competency Database and overhauling the accreditation and inspection of rail training providers. Similarly, the great work being done at events like Derby’s iRail is well-worth reading up on.
Everyone there knew that rail still has a bit of an image problem among the next generation of bright young graduates and potential apprentices, and that we need more people to move towards rail engineering earlier if we are to satisfy the need for skilled jobs.
Organisations like the Young Railway Professionals are also doing their bit to change this mindset, but it is a big ask. However, with so many young people struggling to find employment at the moment, it can’t be long until we see a real boom in the numbers of people born in the 1990s considering a railway career.
It’s not just track workers, either. As our 47-page Infrarail preview shows, the UK supply chain – whether for track and signalling infrastructure, rolling stock traction, or station equipment – seems to be in rude health, despite rising foreign competition, and the concerns about the future of Bombardier’s Derby plant on the rolling stock side.
Indeed, many of the companies showcasing their products and services at the rail show at Birmingham’s NEC from May 1-3 have been telling us that far from contraction, they are looking seriously at European and global expansion – and this at a time of economic uncertainty. That’s something to celebrate, at least.
Adam Hewitt - Editor