The railway sector is recognized as an important driver in achieving the European objective of smart, ecological, and sustainable growth, and is expected to be the key pillar across the transport system. Digitization is developing rapidly and is leading to an increased demand for ICTs, (Information and Communication Technologies) and technical skills. In addition, there is a growing need for skills related to the modernization of railway infrastructure, traffic management and rolling stock.
Despite the existing opportunities, the sector is experiencing a shortage of skills and a need for updating. On the one hand, around 30% of its workers are expected to retire in the next decade, while career appeal should increase.
In turn, the process of transformation driven by research and innovation requires incorporating the right skills and competencies. In this context, one of the main challenges to face is the difficulty in hiring staff, including groups represented by women and young people. This is particularly due to two aspects: a negative and widespread perception of working conditions on the railway, and a low awareness of the high-tech employment opportunities offered by the sector.
To meet this challenge, the STAFFER project combines key stakeholders in the railway industry to closely cooperate in anticipating the training needs and improving the dialogue between the education sector and the labour market. The project lasts for 4 years and the consortium consists of 7 infrastructure managers/operators, 8 railway industry providers, 2 associations, a consultancy firm and 14 educational institutions (higher education and secondary education institutions). Among the members of the consortium, we would highlight the participation of entities such as CAF, ALSTOM, BOMBARDIER, SIEMENS MOBILITY, CER, UNIFE, DEUTSCHE BAHN, SNCF and ÖBB.
The final result of the STAFFER project is the creation of a stakeholder railway partnership – Skill Alliance. The purpose of this consortium is to develop a comprehensive Blueprint strategy to recognize the current needs and the new skills required to achieve a single European railway area. Such strategy will help to overcome the fragmentation of the railway sector and it will enable the railway industry and educational institutions (vocational training and universities) to design and take concrete measures to meet the need for skills.
Master in Railway Engineering
On the other hand, and in order to promote talent in the railway sector, MAFEX collaborates with the University of Cantabria in its first edition of the Master in Railway Engineering. The main objective of the master is to train professionals working in different areas of the railway sector, developing specific and cross-cutting competencies in different disciplines.