Rail jobs, staff issues and training


Rail industry leaders launch joined-up plan to tackle rail skills shortage

Rail industry leaders have announced the launch of the Rail Sector Skills Delivery Plan, which aims to tackle the rail industry’s growing challenge in finding and training new recruits.

The plan, developed in response to the government’s Transport Infrastructure Skills Strategy (TISS) published last year, was developed in collaboration with over 60 businesses across the rail sector and will be delivered by TOCs, infrastructure managers, colleges, trainers and academia, along with Young Rail Professionals and Women in Rail.

The plan hopes to tackle the chronic skills shortage in the rail industry, with research estimating that a lack of investment in skills will cost the industry over £300m by 2024, set to escalate to over £1bn 10 years later.

Rail minister Paul Maynard, who wrote for the latest edition of RTM about the importance of innovation, said in his keynote: “Britain has a chance to be a leading player in the global rail industry but to achieve this we need to attract a new generation of young people into the workforce.  We are competing for the brightest and best talent and must get better at promoting the well-paid and exciting careers rail can offer.

“I am delighted to launch the industry’s first ever skills plan and want the rail sector to join government in getting behind it to deliver a highly-skilled, diverse and flexible workforce, to drive up the number of apprenticeships and to promote rail as a high-tech and dynamic industry.”

The TISS sets out significant challenges to the transport sector in developing its workforce, seeking the delivery of 30,000 apprenticeships by 2020. At least 20% of the new apprentices entering the workforce should be women and, where there is under-representation, it also seeks a 20% increase in the number of BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic) apprentices.

These quotas are an attempt to tackle the poor diversity of the railway industry, with women making up a mere 4% of railway engineers and less than 18% of the rail industry overall, according to Women in Rail’s research. People of BAME backgrounds are also insufficiently represented.

Mike Brown, transport commissioner and new NSAR chairman, expressed optimism in the industry’s ability to turn these figures around, saying: “I passionately believe in ensuring that this industry has the right skills to tackle the challenges we are facing. We have not properly looked at all parts of society to harness new talent so desperately needed.

“We have to urgently address the number of women and people from the black, Asian and minority ethnic communities – not only will this make our industry a better place to work, we will also be more productive and successful in responding to the great opportunities ahead.”

The chief executive of the Rail Delivery Group (RDG), Paul Plummer, echoed Brown’s comments, confirming the RDG’s support for the initiative and emphasising the importance of more skilled workers in the rail industry.

“Our members are actively contributing to the [Rail Sector Skills Delivery Plan] by planning, delivering and implementing the new apprenticeship standards and creatively using the new apprenticeship levy,” Plummer added.

“We also welcome the inclusion of apprenticeship targets in the new franchises. We need an even more highly skilled workforce to deliver the technical and operational challenges that we face.”

Full coverage of the event launch for the skills plan, which took place on Wednesday at the Institute of Civil Engineers, will feature in the next edition of RTM (December/January 2017).


Noam Bleicher   09/12/2016 at 12:47

“Britain has a chance to be a leading player in the global rail industry but to achieve this we need to attract a new generation of young people into the workforce. '' Isn't this a bit ageist? What about middle-aged people who would like a career change? Don't people from other industries have anything to offer?

Dave   09/12/2016 at 12:58

The rail industry is looking at young people, but we are also looking to other industries as well. There is a positive drive to recruit ex- forces personnel. We are also looking to learn from other industry's, especially aerospace and automotive, so if you have the skills and knowledge, we are interested. Age is no barrier.

Rupster   12/12/2016 at 11:32

I agree with Noam. There's always talk about recruiting young people, but I never see an announcement about the railway industry keen to attract career-changers. If they're so keen, where should we send our CVs to?

Add your comment


rail technology magazine tv

more videos >

latest rail news

Virgin launches app to allow customers to bid for cheap First Class upgrades

20/09/2017Virgin launches app to allow customers to bid for cheap First Class upgrades

Virgin Trains has launched a world first app that allows passengers to bid for First Class upgrades for as low as £5. The app, Seatfro... more >
RMT ‘playing politics’ with passengers as strike action planned in October

20/09/2017RMT ‘playing politics’ with passengers as strike action planned in October

October is set to be another tough month for commuters across the country as the RMT announced a tranche of strikes across four operators. F... more >
Work begins on new Maghull North station

20/09/2017Work begins on new Maghull North station

Construction of a new station in the north west has started this week, which will give increased travel options for passengers in the region. ... more >

editor's comment

04/09/2017A series of incredible events

There are a couple of announcements I’d like to make in this editor’s comment, which I believe could be very beneficial to many of our readers.  Firstly, the deadline is fast approaching to enter the UK Rail Industry Awards (UKRIA), which will take place on 22 March 2018 at Battersea Evolution in London.  Now in its fifth year, UKRIA continues to bring together the leaders and decision-makers running the rail ... read more >

last word

How do tram and rail passengers compare?

How do tram and rail passengers compare?

David Sidebottom, director at Transport Focus, analyses the drivers in performance of passenger satisfaction in tram compared to rail. Results published in our recent Tram Passenger Survey (... more > more last word articles >

'the sleeper's' daily blog

UKRIA 2018: Meet the judging panel

19/09/2017UKRIA 2018: Meet the judging panel

With just under a week left to get your applications in for the rail industry’s biggest awards event, UKRIA, it seems like the perfect time to introduce the huge names that are making up our judging panel this year. The most exciting addition to the senior pan-industry panel this year is one of the most recognisable names in the industry – Sir Peter Hendy, chairman of Network Rail. Sir Peter, who has also worked as TfL ... more >
read more blog posts from 'the sleeper' >


A network of training excellence

18/09/2017A network of training excellence

Writing on behalf of the Training Alliance, Simon Rennie runs through the early results of a tight-knit collaboration agreement between key rail ... more >
Do you feel heard in the workplace?

18/09/2017Do you feel heard in the workplace?

Much of what we do at CIRAS is about listening to the health and safety concerns of people in safety critical roles. Often people approach CIRAS ... more >
Enabling the Great North Rail Project

18/09/2017Enabling the Great North Rail Project

Mark Bellew writing on behalf of Network Rail discusses progress on the company’s Great North Rail Project, and the signalling that underpi... more >
A challenge for the rail industry?

18/09/2017A challenge for the rail industry?

Tim Bellenger, director of policy and investigation at London TravelWatch, discusses the opportunities and challenges the draft mayor’s Tra... more >

rail industry focus

View all News


A game changer for Wales and Borders

17/07/2017A game changer for Wales and Borders

Andy Thomas, managing director for Network Rail’s Wales route, describes how the infrastructure owner will work more collaboratively than e... more >