The railway industry is facing a workforce skills shortage, with risk of significant cost and delivery blowouts on major tram and train projects Australia wide throughout the next decade.
Rail-related construction is worth around $7 billion to the economy and is expected to grow as much as 8 per cent annually off the back of major projects across Australia.
The Australasian Railway Association released a report on Tuesday calling for reforms to the training sector to meet the demand for workers.
The report recommends the establishment of a high-level taskforce of government, industry, and education providers with a three-pronged focus:
- Facilitate the development and maintenance of an Australasian rail industry pipeline of rail projects to map skilled labour required across construction, manufacturing, operations and maintenance. The ANZIP pipeline, established by Infrastructure Partnerships Australia, which enjoys financial backing from both the Australian and NZ governments, should be adapted and refined for this purpose.
- Develop a National Rail Industry Skills Development Strategy to drive reform in education and training systems and practices that increase the availability of required skills, their productivity, transferability, and mobility while retaining a commitment to quality and safety.
- Boost awareness and attraction of rail careers. The need to attract skills and career aspirants to the rail industry is widely recognised. Industry has a significant responsibility in this regard. The taskforce should add its weight to initiatives such as establishing ‘branding partnerships’ with related industries across transport, mining and manufacturing.