UTK Office of Rail Transport, Poland

The railways are waiting for employees

Z“In two years’ time, we will need 1,500 more engine drivers. This is a career opportunity for you. There are 16,500 railway vehicle drivers in Poland today, but almost 4,500 will reach retirement age within the next 5 years. It is an advantage for job seekers but it may become an issue for railway companies. This generation gap may prove a challenge in many other railway-related professions. Luckily, most railway companies have already begun to act to bridge this gap,” writes Ignacy Góra, the President of the UTK Polish Office of Rail Transport.“Engine drivers are some of the most sought-after professionals in railway companies. This follows from the research compiled by UTK based on the engine drivers register and information provided by operators. I encourage young people to choose the railways as their workplace. An engine driver is a very interesting job and, besides, the pay of experienced drivers exceeds the national average.”

“More and more often, it is the employee that dictates the terms and this is what may soon happen on the railways. Companies have to look for employees, which they are beginning to do anyway. Over the next 5 years, 4,500 engine drivers will retire, which is a little over one-fourth of this profession in Poland. Such detailed figures are not available for other railway professions but the situation may be similar. The reasons for this generation gap are similar for all railway jobs. The restructuring of the railway sector at the beginning of the 21st century decreased the need for new employees, while some of those already employed on the railways had to leave the industry.

The revival of vocational training is a good sign: railway courses are being reinstated in technical secondary schools. This is important because the efficiency of the railways requires the collaboration of many people, not just engine drivers. Due to the high health requirements and the requisite motor skills, not everyone can become an engine driver, but there are plenty of other railway jobs to choose from. Important job positions include those directly related to railway traffic control and safety, and to driving specific types of railway vehicles. These are: train dispatcher, signaller, train conductor, shunting supervisor, shunter, rolling stock inspector, automation specialist, foreman ganger, crossing keeper, train or rail vehicle driver and assistant of a traction vehicle driver.

Young people who are thinking about their professional careers should consider studying at railway technical schools. The certificate of a railway transport technician, a railway traffic control automation specialist, a rail transport electrical engineer or a railway road and bridge technician will make it easier to take up a job directly related to railway traffic control and safety.

The UTK works with schools which provide railway-related courses. We are open to curricula consultations and are happy to collaborate on lessons. Schools which run railway courses have received invitations to take part in the ‘Deklaracja w sprawie rozwoju kultury bezpieczeństwa w transporcie kolejowym’ [Declaration on better safety culture in railway transport] campaign. In many schools, the top students can count on scholarships and employment guarantees from, for example, PKP PLK.”

Ignacy Góra
President, UTK Polish Office of Rail Transport