Rail sector skills shortages & where the jobs are

Posted: 5th Apr

The Australian Railway Industry relased a report in November 2018, titled "AUSTRALASIAN RAILWAY ASSOCIATION SKILLS CAPABILTY STUDY SKILLS CRISIS: A CALL TO ACTION".

In the report they identified the key ‘rail related’ or potentially related occupations which are already deemed to be in shortage at the national level.  These include:

  • Electrical engineer
  • Mechanical engineer
  • Motor mechanics
  • Metal trades workers
  • Fabricators
  • Welders
  • Telecommunications trades workers


The Australian Industry Standards Skills Forecast 2018 report notes, via an online survey of all rail stakeholders between December 2017 and January 2018, that the following rail-specific areas to be in skills shortage:

  • Train drivers
  • Signalling technicians
  • Educators, trainers and assessors
  • Train controllers
  • Track workers

At a more practical level, the rail industry have noted several distinct areas and occupations as being in more or less immediate shortage:

  • Railway signalling engineers and maintenance workers
  • Overhead wiring / electrical
  • Tunnelling
  • Train drivers
  • Trainers and assessors
  • Safety and track force protection
  • Community engagement

While the ‘tsunami’ of rail infrastructure investment shown below may suggest that the current skills concerns are on the construction side of the rail industry – and there certainly are concerns, particularly regarding signalling, tunnelling and trackwork – what may be more surprising to the broader public, governments and procurers, is that the greatest current workforce shortages was considered to be in operations and maintenance positions, as well as trainers of skills themselves.