Night view of waverley station in edinburgh, scotland, via Istock

RIA Scotland identifies need for increased apprenticeship workforce

Suppliers for Scottish rail have asked for the requisite government support to increase the apprenticeships within their workforce to five percent, with the offer coming at RIA (Railway Industry Association) Scotland’s annual conference, held in Edinburgh on Thursday 24 November.

The conference represents a major event in the rail sector’s calendar, bringing together some 100 industry leaders and senior players to discuss the necessary strategic action to take to innovate and improve the industry in Scotland.

Notable names from this year’s iteration of the conference included a keynote speech from Transport Minister Jenny Gilruth MSP, discussing the vital role rail can play in decarbonisation, innovation and social value. Alex Hynes, the Managing Director of Scotland’s Railways was involved in panel discussions along with Bill Reeve, the Director Rail at Transport Scotland.

Jenny Gilruth MSP, Minister for Transport, said:

“It was a pleasure to attend the RIA Scotland conference today and hear first-hand the collaborative way in which the rail supply sector works. The Scottish Government is committed to delivering an affordable railway for the people it serves.

“RIA Scotland is right to maintain a clear focus on four key priorities: decarbonisation, skills, innovation and efficient delivery. Delivering on these will be essential to providing a reliable, cost-effective and sustainable railway that’s fit for the future”.

Jenny Gilruth speaking at the conference, via RIA

The conference’s agenda was focused around the four priorities for Scotland’s railway:

  • Decarbonisation.
  • Skills.
  • Innovation
  • Efficient Delivery.

These four themes were addressed, where the industry was able to make a series of ‘offers’ and ‘asks’ to address the areas of concern.

To combat the existing skills related issues, rail suppliers have presented the ambition to employ 500 apprentices or have apprentices make up five percent of their workforce. To achieve this goal, decision makers must supply a clear pipeline of work and launch a programme that can promote the opportunities available for the younger generations within the sector.

Other discussions centred around how the industry can offer better value for money to the tax-paying passengers, creating cheaper electrification processes and innovating sector practises to create a contemporary rail system for the benefit of Scotland.

Meirion Thomas, Chair of RIA Scotland, said:

"This was a hugely successful event and RIA Scotland members stand ready to use their expertise to make the Scottish rail investment programme greener and more efficient.

“We look forward to work with the Scottish Government, Transport Scotland, Network Rail and many others to deliver a successful, sustainable and vibrant railway industry in Scotland."

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