Latest Rail News

13.03.12

Engineers deterred from careers in rail

Engineers are being deterred from railway careers due to requirements for early specialisation, an industry survey suggests.

Over 80% of chartered engineers and the Institute of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) surveyed reported that current training and development can limit their career paths, and suggested a move from internal, self-accredited standards towards a regime that places more emphasis on giving new engineering recruits a broader, more systems-focused approached.

The respondents also called for the industry to break down ‘silos’ between disciplines, in order to provide new recruits with a wider level of knowledge.

Philippa Oldham, head of transport at the IMechE, said: “We need to encourage more people to pursue railway engineering careers and the fact that people are forced to specialise so early could deter some of the best engineering talent. Government and industry need to work together to find ways to allow people to specialise later in their careers.”

John Stansfeld, transportation director at Lloyd’s Register, which conducted the survey, said: “Young people are attracted to professions that do not appear to restrict choice and variety, so we need to demonstrate how a career in the railways offers a solid technical grounding with plenty of opportunities to follow specialist interests later as their experience develops. We must challenge the perception that engineers are ‘locked in’ to one discipline for life.

“At the same time, we need to anticipate and respond to future skills demand, such as in energy efficiency. Whilst taking positive steps to ensure a strong supply of rail engineering expertise, we must be ready to meet tomorrow’s challenges.”

Gil Howarth, chief executive of NSARE, added: “We welcome this initiative and the results of the survey are remarkably consistent with the views expressed to us. A systems-engineering approach will be essential to the implementation of the European Rail Traffic Management System across the network over the next 20 to 30 years, with train control moving from line-side signals to in-cab.”

Tell us what you think – have your say below, or email us directly at opinion@railtechnologymagazine.com

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