AusRAIL, Market Sectors

Rail?s workforce challenges continue

<span class="" id="parent-fieldname-description"> The Australian rail industry will need to overcome a number of challenges in upcoming years if it is to maintain the workforce required for projected future growth, the Transport and Logistics Industry Skills Council says. </span> <p>According to the TLISC’s 2013 Environmental Scan, the growing rail industry will continue to stretch the supply of several key skilled positions.</p><p>Included on the list of skills in high demand are train drivers, technicians, railway track workers, track patrollers and rail engineers.</p><p>“Demand for rail services is growing, providing a barrier to meeting skills and labour shortages that are already significant in some parts of the sector,” the council’s report says.</p><p>“The global demand for coal, iron and other resources is causing increased freight movements. Growth in passenger numbers is being driven by mounting petrol costs, parking fees, the time spent by commuters in traffic jams, and a rising population.”</p><p>According to TLISC, barriers which need to be overcome by the industry as a result include an ageing workforce, the lead time required to train or upskill workers, and competition for labour from the mining and resources industry.</p><p>Also contributing to the stretched labour force is the nature of shift work and the “poor industry image and lack of understanding of the opportunities available,” the council says.</p><p>Potential solutions to the problem are a more organised set of skillset progression guidelines at an organisational level, and an assured effort by organisations to map training and workforce development to strategic business outcomes.</p><p>“The bonding of new employees to an organisation in order to recoup training costs has been put forward as a potential solution,” the council says.</p><p>TLISC chief executive officer Robert Adams stressed the importance of the rail industry’s awareness with regards to a potential labour shortage.</p><p>“With an ageing workforce, it is vital that we attract the workers of tomorrow and encourage career changers to consider a career in transport and logistics,” he said.</p><p>“Effective use of existing skills, workforce multi-skilling and the identification of future skill needs are essential elements of workforce planning.”</p>