Federal government’s skilled labour strategy for “Strong Rail” overdue

The federal government has set clear transport policy goals for the future: doubling transport performance by 2030 and increasing the share of rail freight transport to 25 % are two of them. These goals are proving to be an enormous challenge to the further expansion of infrastructure and its financing. Shifting traffic to rail requires an efficient rail network. Its large-scale modernisation is to take place with a huge building renewal programme.

The investment ramp-up requires a large number of well-trained and qualified professionals for planning and construction as well as for operation and maintenance of the infrastructure. This applies equally to the staff of the transport companies. “If there is only one application for every five engineering positions, it will be tight,” says Dr Thomas Mainka, President of the Association of German Railway Engineers (VDEI).

The lack of skilled labour is already a major obstacle to investment across the rail industry. To meet the demand, a whole bundle of measures is necessary. This primarily includes increasing the number of students in the STEM subjects, especially in the railway-related degree programmes. Special programmes are needed here that start in the schools. The trend towards reducing track-related professorship positions at individual universities must be stopped. The railway-related courses of study at the universities must be maintained, strengthened and, if possible, expanded.

In the Coalition Agreement, the Federal Government agreed that a “Skilled Workers Strategy and the National Continuing Education Strategy” daring more progress is to be presented. The association expressly welcomes this intention. Mainka demands: “Action must now follow, but it will only work in a joint action with the educational institutions, the responsible ministries and the affected social groups. We would welcome it if the Federal Ministry of Digital Affairs and Transport would take a leading role here”. The VDEI is already offering its cooperation.

About the VDEI e.V.

The Association of German Railway Engineers (VDEI) is the professional association for engineers in the field of system-guided transport and was founded in 1949. The VDEI is the publisher of the international trade journals “EI – Der Eisenbahningenieur” (monthly), the “EIK – Eisenbahn Ingenieur Kompendium” (annual) and organiser of the trade fair iaf – Internationale Ausstellung Fahrwegtechnik and the iaf Kongress BahnBau in Münster. Since 2010, he has had his own VDEI Academy for Railway Systems for the further training of engineers. The goals and tasks of the VDEI include the promotion, strengthening and development of rail transport, the representation of the interests of the professional group of engineers, the education and training of engineers, the exchange and transfer of expertise, the co-design of transport policy projects in the public sector and the provision of a professional and personal network.

Photo: Deutsche Bahn AG/Volker Emersleben

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