Closing the skills gap and improving diversity in rail
Jo Moffatt, Engineering Practice Director for Strategic Rail at Atkins, writes that the rail industry is facing a serious skills shortage, and urgently needs to respond by focusing on attracting new staff, increasing diversity, and upskilling the current workforce.
This skills shortage means equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) are imperative for our industry – if companies only recruit from the same pool, they’re not able to tap into the very best of the workforce. And it’s not just about recruitment, but making sure that people want to stay.
What will it take to close the skills gap and improve diversity in rail?
It’s a compelling business case; better diversity and inclusion – across ethnicity, ages, backgrounds, education, abilities and skillsets – brings better results. According to the World Economic Forum ‘Future of Jobs’ report, the top drivers of change in the workforce include flexible working, impact of climate change, consumer ethics, geopolitics, young demographics in emerging markets and women’s economic power. Industries can’t improve or develop if the workforce isn’t experienced or skilled in these changing dynamics. As the report states: ‘social skills – such as persuasion, emotional intelligence and teaching others – will be in higher demand across industries than narrow technical skills, such as programming or equipment operation and control. In essence, technical skills will need to be supplemented with strong social and collaboration skills’.