In 2019, a European Commission Study on the competitiveness of the Rail Supply Industry identified the “promotion of the development of skills and safeguard of access to skilled labour” as one of the main action fields for ensuring Europe’s rail supply industry’s leadership. According to this study, “the supply of technical engineers may become a bottleneck in maintaining the competitive position of the EU rail supply industry”.

It even states that “combined with a decreasing workforce due to ageing, perception of an unattractive sector, and changing skill requirements due to the digital transformation, it is expected that this skills shortage could increase in the near future”. These mounting challenges necessitate action without further delay. Later that year, the Final Report of the EC Expert Group on the Competitiveness of the EU Rail Supply Industry confirmed that “in view of the ageing population, a significant cohort of employees is expected to retire within the coming years. At the same time, transformation related to digital and high-tech technologies creates mismatches between available and demanded skills. Already now, enterprises in many Member States are reporting difficulties to find railway engineers”.


Rail is a hallmark of modern European life – citizens ride trains, trams and metros every day to go to work and see loved ones, our goods reach faraway markets on its freight lines and allow visitors to experience the wonders of the European Union. It will become even more depended upon as the European Commission has made addressing climate change a cornerstone of European policy and has identified rail as a potential backbone for sustainable mobility – under the 2020 Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy, which calls to double high-speed rail and freight traffic by 2030 and 2050, respectively. However, there’s one big problem – Europe is currently lacking the skills needed to keep its railways humming to their full potential.