Italy: government takes the field to train the rail workers of the future

In what seems to be a first, at least in Europe, the Italian government is getting involved in increasing cooperation between schools and logistics enterprises to train the workers of the future. The country’s Ministries of Transport and Education recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane (FS), the national railway holding.

According to our research and various industry players, this might be the first time that a European government launches a similar initiative. As Akos Ersek, Chief Policy Advisor for UIRR pointed out, training new workers has been largely neglected over the past few years in Europe. “We have been advocating for similar initiatives for quite some time. Some countries showed interest, but, as far as I know, nothing concrete happened”.

FerMerci: ‘The sector urgently needs new workers’

The news was also warmly welcomed by the Italian rail freight association FerMerci, which has often made statements about a possible shortage of workers in the railway sector in the near future. Already in May, FerMerci asked the Italian government to facilitate the training of rail workers by funding the courses. Giuseppe Rizzi, the association’s General Director, has pointed out multiple times that Italy has one of the oldest workforces in the sector in Europe. If effective initiatives are not seriously implemented, in the future, Italy could face a lack of 3,000 workers, considering new hires expected and personnel who will soon retire and needs to be replaced.

A similar project was also launched by FerMerci, called FerMerci in Formazione. This initiative will entail meetings with companies and high schools in areas where rail logistics plays an important role. The first meeting welcomed students from the Capellini-Sauro high school and the National Transport and Logistics School, both in La Spezia, near Genoa. Considering the government volition, will this initiative help to alleviate the shortage of workers in the Italian railway sector?

The MoU

The agreement was signed on Wednesday 2 August by Ministry of Transport Matteo Salvini, Ministry of Education Giuseppe Valditara, and FS CEO Luigi Ferraris. The goal of the MoU is to promote cooperation between the Italian school system and the professional world of logistics. As a spokesperson from FS told, the next step is to plan meetings with high school students as well as organising laboratories in various schools.

RailFreight Connects

Shortages of workers in the logistics and transport sectors do not only affect Italy but are present all over Europe and beyond. This issue will be discussed at the RailFreight Connects, which will take place at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Bremen, Germany, on 6 and 7 September. Federica Catani, Director of Scuola Nazionale Trasporti e Logistica, will offer her insights on how Italy is dealing with the issue and what can be done to further prevent it.

The event will revolve around the synergies between ports and rail infrastructure and how they can be enhanced. Representatives from HHLA, the port of Genoa, Nevomo, Lohr, DB Netz, UIRR, and more are among the already confirmed speakers. Last, but certainly not least, the RailFreight Connects will be the first EU-level event where the Greening Freight Package will be discussed. You can find out more about the RailFreight Connects here and retrieve your tickets here.

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Autor/a Marco Raimondi