Industry has gone online to combat rail’s critical skills shortages and recently held interactive workshops to launch two new workforce development websites.
The Skilled Migration Kit and Portfolio of Best Practice Attraction and Image Strategies were developed by the CRC in conjunction with the Australasian Railway Association (ARA) and member companies to provide industry with practical strategies, information and solutions in its recruitment process.
While rail in Australia currently employs in excess of 100,000 staff, industry is facing major workforce challenges including a global skills shortage in trades and engineering; an ageing workforce, with 40% of staff leaving in the next five years; and education trends, with younger workers less likely to take on blue collar roles and rail not being seen as an employer of choice – or not considered at all.
At the same time, demand for rail is on the increase as a result of significant rail infrastructure investment; increased demand in passenger and freight services; technological advances; development in the resources sector; and increased customer expectations including customer service standards and reliability.
Alarmingly, growth in the Industry means that rail needs to attract around 7300 workers over the next five years across the fields of operations, trades and engineering to meet the increased demand for rail.
At the same time, rail needs to compete for these staff with the mining, electricity, water, gas and construction industries who face the same challenges.
“These two projects are the culmination of cutting-edge, industry-driven research projects facilitated by the CRC,” CRC chief executive David George said.
“Both projects will improve the rail industry’s ability to attract and retain domestic and international project managers, technical workers and engineers to ensure that rail can compete with other industries to secure enough skilled workers to replace its retiring workforce.”
The Portfolio of Best Practice Attraction and Image Strategies provides examples of branding and attraction strategies based on research with students, teachers, careers advisors, recruiters, marketers and HR practitioners that can be adopted by rail.
The website includes quizzes designed to have the viewer consider their own perceptions about rail careers, information from marketeers and examples from industry where rail careers are portrayed strongly. It also includes examples from other industries and national approaches to improving image issues, branding, national initiatives in schools and universities and being an employer of choice.
The Skilled Migration Information Kit provides industry with key information for recruiting skilled migrants from both offshore and onshore.
The kit enables practitioners, such as human resources managers and operations managers, to be well-informed about the practical requirements and realities of recruiting migrants through Australia’s skilled migration visa options. It cover issues such as the decision to recruit, costs and return on investment, marketing tools, relocation and settlement to assist in addressing the skills shortages the industry faces.
The kit has links to documents, videos, animations, You Tube clips of recruitment campaigns and websites that have been selected as good practice exemplars to act as a starting point for the rail industry in skilled migrant recruitment.
“The three interactive launches provided useful workshops for Industry HR managers, workforce planners, marketers, branding managers and line managers to come together, share the recruitment challenges they face and discuss practical methods to ensure rail can combat the skilled shortages issue and come out ahead,” George said.
The websites can both be found at www.ara.net.au under the HR and Training tab.