“There’s a lot of good stuff going on in transport, but we’re not very good at telling people, and that’s affecting how we recruit the next generation of practitioners.”
That’s the message from Darren Capes, Vice President of the Institute of Highway Engineers and Manager of the Transport Technology Forum, advising the industry on how they can fill the skills gap as the roles needed to deliver efficient, green networks change in the future.
Mr Capes was talking at a Tech UK event in London to coincide with the publication of the industry body’s new report Delivering the Future of Transport: Addressing the Skills Gap which sets out five recommendations Tech UK has come up with for how government and industry can ensure that the transport sector has the digital and technical skills it needs to thrive.
“We need to be clear about the different jobs you can do in transport and the different personas you require,” Mr Capes advised. “We’ve always needed highway engineers and signals engineers, but local authorities now need coders, data scientists and cyber security experts too. The first step to recruiting these people is knowing you need them – once you have defined the people you need you can then convey the exciting jobs they could do, and that is what will attract them.”
Speaking in a panel discussion called “Mind the Skills Gap” at the event in Central London, Mr Capes admitted that the transport industry struggles to compete for talent against highly-paid fintech careers using use of technology to deliver financial services and products to consumers, but that as the industry moves away from its “muddy boots”, it can convey transport as a way of changing the world.
“The role of the IHE is to train and accredit the people we will need for the future and the role of the Transport Technology Forum is to convey to employers what are our transport goals – helping people understand what we are trying to achieve,” he explained. “Engineers are good at talking about what they’re doing but not why they’re doing it. While stuck in the day job, we need to think about where we are going and what skills and people we need.”
Darren Capes’s appearance on the panel was the first instance of co-operation between the TTF and TechUK, but the two organisations are looking to work more closely together in the future.
(Picture, L-R; Liz James, Senior Consultant NCC Group; Darren Capes; Cathy Chen, Future Mobility Manager, KPMG and Nimmi Patel, Head of Skills, Talent and Diversity, Tech UK.)