Rail transport in Europe is a future-oriented industry and is striving to offer an even more attractive, affordable, safe, clean, competitive and reliable transport mode. Innovation is a key success factor for European Railways and the Supply Industry.
The project aimed to contribute to the enhancement of the transport sector by fostering a better match between the human resources needs and the offer of skills to make railways a more competitive and innovative sector. The SKILLRAIL project devoted significant efforts to design and launch a sustainable framework, EURAIL ('European University of Railway'), for creation, dissemination and transfer of knowledge within the railway sector.
The purpose was to contribute to European surface transport research programme implementation and to the enhancement of the sector by fostering a better match between: the human resources needs to make railways a more competitive and innovative sector, and the offer of skills coming out of the different research based education and training institutions across Europe. In brief, the project set out to:
- disseminate the vision and the intense ongoing change process in the railway sector with the aim of contributing to a change in the public image of railways;
- highlight the social and industrial benefits accumulated from rail;
- provide new concepts and skills for young people by offering disciplines based on recent research results;
- demonstrate and disseminate the need of advanced high technology engineering in the future of railways;
- demonstrate and disseminate the need of additional domains of knowledge that should complement engineering, such as economics, management, sociology, human factors, etc;
- make evidence (foster and disseminate) that new job opportunities will be open in the railway sector and in other transport sectors as a result of the transfer of knowledge from the research domain to technical industrial applications with a potential for a strong innovative content.
With respect to women and shaping the railways of tomorrow, the SKILLRAIL objectives were:
- to identify and develop actions promoting and supporting women participation for the benefit of outstanding railway transports research and industry;
- to disseminate the potential of gender diversity added value in research fields relevant to the greening of surface transports;
- to raise awareness of high skilled job opportunities for women in railway science, research and innovation, by means of seminars, workshops/events;
- to disseminate best practices in promoting and supporting women participation in railway transport research.
To reach the goals, the following activities were undertaken:
- Higher education for the railway community of tomorrow.
- Training and educational offers and identify the necessary expertises, skills and career development strategies.
- Advanced training for European railway stakeholders.
- Characterise current and foreseen training needs and design and prepare a consistent program of training and education initiatives.
- Skilled jobs in the railway sector; Dissemination and Communication; Gender issues.
- Establish the information link between demand (rail industry and operators) and providers (Universities) of academic education and training. Events targeted to young people for academic and industry jobs in the railway sector. Awareness on gender perspective and opportunities.
EURAIL ('European University of Railway') is based on knowledge, experience and people from real universities in Europe. However, this University is virtual in nature. It aspires to foster excellence by gathering and networking the different relevant organisations and institutions around a project: an educational project suitable to the needs of the European Rail sector. EURAILS's unique feature is this concentration of high-level knowledge and expertise in one single sector/problem-oriented institution.
The SKILLRAIL project and EURAIL will be supported by the EURNEX knowledge management system (KMS) for spreading and generation of knowledge among partners.
By addressing the needs of the sector, EURAIL (the 'European University of Railway') will provide the conditions to disseminate the social and industrial benefits of training and education in the railway sector. EURAIL also will develop, at a European level, high quality training and education activities for the railway community of tomorrow.
The representation of women in the transport sector is quite low compared with the labor market as a whole. The representation of women in the railway sector is less than 18%. Also the division of labor is clearly gendered. Men are foremost represented in technical and operational functions whereas women work in service areas.
General barriers for women seeking employment in the transport sector are maily due to:
- reluctance of employers to hire women;
- poorer working conditions: e.g. wages, access to training, family unfriendly working hours, male-centered ergonomic working conditions and the risk of violence and/or harassment;
- cultural stereotypes that associate women and men with specific roles and tasks in the transport sector;
- a male dominated sector that implies little experience and awareness with women’s issues and rights: i.e. maternity leave, hours of work, part time jobs, shift patterns etc;
- poor health and safety surroundings: i.e. insufficient radio contact or lightning, lacking sanitary rooms for women etc.
The solution of these problems will benefit not only women but will provide everyone working in the transport sector with better rights and conditions.
- An efficient and integrated mobility system: Promoting quality jobs and working conditions
- Innovating for the future (technology and behaviour): A European Transport Research and Innovation Policy