Bobby at Trailblazers reception

Bob writes:

On 11 July I attended the launch of the of Rail Industry Association’s (RIA) trailblazers’ campaign.

Civil engineer Derek Emmett, who is a member of RIA, kindly invited me to go with him. The launch was in the form of a workshop run in collaboration with Young Rail Professionals (YRP) and the Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA). The event took place at The Oval cricket ground in Kennington.

RIA brings together companies of all sizes and interests from within the UK rail industry. So the event was a really good opportunity for me to meet industry leaders and young rail professionals, get involved in discussions about skills, and find out about the challenges faced in increasing diversity within the rail workforce.

We discussed the different roles available in the rail industry, including mechanical engineer, railway engineer, and quantity surveyor. With a recognition of the shortage of young engineers, a lot of the discussion centred around the many different routes that graduates can take into the industry.

David Westcough, Florence Eshalomi, Darren Caplan,
L to R: David Westcough, Young Rail Professionals national chair, London Assembly transport committee chair Florence Eshalomi, and Darren Caplan, chief executive, RIA

Major UK projects like HS2 are creating opportunities for young professionals, but the need to address the shortage of women, and improve diversity across the rail and construction industries was a major topic.

Transport Chair of the London Assembly, Florence Eshalomi, spoke about the future challenges for London’s transport sector. These include the need to cater for six million more journeys by 2050. She said that the railway industry must reflect the people it serves.

“We have to invest in the next generation of staff. We must challenge the perceptions that the rail and transport sector is only for men by encouraging more females and other underrepresented groups to study STEM subjects, supporting apprentices, training and graduate schemes.”

Thank you to Derek for inviting me to a really interesting event.

There is more about the event on the RIA website.

Bobby Hayre
Author: section engineer Bob Hayre

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