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Role models need to promote rail careers ‘in an incredibly different way’

Everyone in the rail industry needs to be doing more to attract and inspire the next generation of professionals – and they all have to do it in an “incredibly different way.”

Those are the views of the leaders who took part in a panel debate on equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) at the TransCityRail Conference last week – including HS2’s Mark Lomas, Rail Alliance’s Lucy Prior, Amey’s Anna Delvecchio, VolkerWessels UK’s Hollie Woodard, and Kris Phelps of the Employers Network for Equality & Inclusion.

During the panel, Delvecchio, who is currently commercial account director at Amey and the Rail Supply Group sector deal co-lead, stressed the importance of having very clear role models who can bust any lingering myths around historically misunderstood roles, such as the many technical jobs in rail or engineering.

“Apprenticeships are a great way to inspire the next generation and show them what we do and how we do it. We all have to do more around this, and we have to do it in an incredibly different way,” she argued. “The transport and logistics sector has so many role models, and this is a really important point: there are lots of roles that, in my mind, are misunderstood.

“This is the Year of Engineering. It’s absolutely the year when we should be inspiring the next generation to take up a career in engineering and showing how exciting it can be. What does the word ‘engineering’ mean to a child, and how can we articulate that and make those roles more exciting?”

This is especially important because, as an audience member pointed out, companies often don’t get enough female applicants for jobs – making it even more difficult to hire a diverse group of suitable candidates.

A few potential solutions were listed by the panel members. Mark Lomas, who is HS2 Ltd’s head of EDI, said that his company is already deploying ‘blind auditioning’ for roles as part of a method which ignores CVs and tests people for competence only – an initiative he wrote about in greater detail for the latest edition of RTM.

As well as showing delegates one of the many rail careers promotion videos made by Working Eye (watch one of them below), Delvecchio reminded the audience of the National Skills Delivery Plan for Rail being driven by NSAR alongside the industry.

The plan was launched in December 2016, and brings together major sector leaders under one umbrella in an effort to address rail’s workforce gaps through tangible and deliverable pledges, such as via NSAR-CONNECT.

Lucy Prior MBE, membership development & international trade director at the Rail Alliance, also plugged Rail Week, which has officially kicked off yesterday and will be running until 14 October. The week-long celebration, with dedicated events and activities up and down the country, seeks to bring the rail industry closer to teachers, career advisers, schools and students in order to promote the sector’s rewarding opportunities. To find out how you can get involved, visit their website.

Missed out on TransCityRail 2018 but want to attend next year? Click here to find out more and get your ticket for 3 October 2019!


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