Our members, the Government and transport users alike all have hopes and expectations for improved transport infrastructure both regionally and nationally. However engineering is just one dimension of the skills shortages that face the transport sector exacerbated by a workforce which is ageing and which does not reflect the diversity of wider society. Indeed the Department for Transport is predicting a 55,000 shortfall in skilled workers in transport infrastructure by 2020, which is a major threat to transport infrastructure development. One key reason why we supporting National Women in Engineering Day this Friday.
The Urban Transport Group has long supported initiatives designed to encourage and promote careers in transport and to enhance diversity in recruitment – we strongly believe there’s a need to make a career in the transport sector more appealing to a more diverse range of people not least because sorting out your cities transport challenges in creative and effective ways, or delivering that transport service, is an exciting and rewarding thing to do. Yet the image the sector projects is not cutting through.
In the run up to National Women in Engineering Day on Friday, 23 June we will be highlighting the many excellent initiatives and examples that are out not just on encouraging women into the engineering sector, and transport more widely, but also on many other aspects of skills and diversity. And there are some great initiatives out there – the Chartered Institute of Highways and Logistics (CIHT) has a toolkit to address the lack of diversity in the transport sector and deliver benefits such as recruitment from a wider talent pool, benefits to corporate reputation and improvements in creativity and innovation. The toolkit can be found here. There are a number of national schemes that help employees to go into schools and promote careers in their areas. These include STEMNET for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics based careers, the Royal Geographical Society’s Geography Ambassador scheme, for geography related careers, and Inspiring the Future, which is not sector or subject specific.
#Transportskills week forms part of our wider work on capabilities and capacities which includes creating the only guide – that we are aware of – that profiles the various national relevant skills and diversity initiatives which the transport sector could participate in or take advantage of.
UTG will continue to work in this area, and we have established a People and Skills Hub on our website for our members, in order to share information about national initiatives like those highlighted in the guide. In addition, our wider Capacities and Capabilities workstream (of which our people and skills work stream is part) seeks to improve the capabilities and capacities of our members, including through an ‘Insight’ hub for datasets and indicators and shared technical and transport planning tools.
If we want urban transport to meet the needs of our changing and growing cities then we need those who plan, deliver and provide urban transport systems to reflect the vibrancy, diversity and creativity of those who live there and we need urban transport organisations that offer careers that build skills, fit lifestyles and support peoples’ development. There’s plenty of great skills and diversity initiatives out there to help this process – and highlighting those is what our #transportskills week is all about.