European rail alliance discusses long-term strategy to address skill shortages in the sector

14 October 2022

Partners of the 4-year-long, ERASMUS+-funded Skill Training Alliance For the Future European Rail System (STAFFERcame together yesterday in Brussels to assess the project’s progress on the preparation of a long-term action plan to address skill gaps and shortages in the sector. On the occasion of the STAFFER Mid-Term Conference and annual meeting, over 50 participants from the consortium of key rail sector stakeholders met to share output and exchange opinion on next steps.

The European Year of Youth, and the proposed 2023 European Year of Skills, was appropriately reflected in the conference’s programme with panel discussions on the EU Skills Agenda, the European Year of Youth and on how to make the railway sector more attractive to young people. Speakers included representatives from business, education and training institutions, professional associations, and the European institutions.

Railway Gazette's Felicity Parson leads STAFFER leaders and Commission representatives in morning discussions about how to best attract talent to the rail sector.

STAFFER gathers 31 full partners and 15 associated partners from across the European rail community in a stakeholder partnership to address the rising demand in skills needed for technological developments in the green and digital transition of railways. The project started in November 2020 with the support of the EU Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA) and is half-way through its 4-year lifecycle.

The railway sector is experiencing a severe skills shortage and there is a strong need for reskilling and upskilling. Furthermore, a large share of the current workforce is expected to retire within the next 10 years. STAFFER's role is to identify current and future skills and competence needs according to the vision of the future rail sector.

The project's defined recommendations for existing and new training curricula and mobility programmes will impart skills required for the manufacturing, operating, and maintaining of rail products, as well as more general ICT skills essential for the digitalisation of rail transport.

In detail, nine training paths and curricula - at different EQF levels - were developed considering mobility and work-based learning in the rail industry. Indicators and standardised procedures to evaluate the existing and designed training programmes were identified focusing on the European Quality Assurance in Vocational Education and Training (EQAVET) framework.

Finally, under the umbrella of the STAFFER project, strategies are created and implemented to address skills gaps and shortages, identify emerging occupational profiles, as well as designing a long-term action plan to be rolled out at the European, national, and regional levels.

During the event, STAFFER Coordinator and University of Genoa Professor of Transport Engineering Angela Di Febbraro stated: Today, all together - and thanks to the effort of all the partners - we have reached a turning point for the project. The educational needs of the sector have been identified, the response defined, and it is time to start putting them into practice. I am sure that the high level of commitment of all the partners perceived today will continue to produce the good results the rail sector deserves.”

Further information on the project can be found in this short, animated video and in the STAFFER mid-term report - released at today's conference.


Ana Manuelito
Public Affairs Manager
+32 2 642 23 29

Cliona Cunningham
Head of Communications
+32 472 48 75 98

Nicola Sacco
Full Professor of Transportation Engineering

For regular updates, please follow STAFFER on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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