Specialist rail and energy recruiter, Samuel Knight International, has welcomed the latest deal to manufacture 165 carriages for the East Midlands Railway franchise as a positive step towards the evolution of rail, but warns that the shortage of specialist skills needs an equal weight of these innovative ideas.

In an announcement last week Hitachi revealed it will be working on this new fleet for EMR based on Japanese bullet train technology. In light of this news, the Newcastle-based firm has reiterated its calls for employers across rail to be just as innovative in their talent attraction strategies in order to address the on-going dearth of talent facing the industry.

Steve Rawlingson, Group CEO at Samuel Knight, commented:

“Innovation in rail is not only exciting, but also necessary in order to improve and streamline services in the UK. However, while we certainly welcome announcements such as this latest one from Hitachi, our concern is that progress in addressing the shortage of requisite talent to be able to deliver on these ambitious plans is not keeping up with the pace of change in the industry.

“There’s certainly scope for so much more in rail, but the simple fact remains that we are still struggling with resources – in fact, data from EngineeringUK suggests there’s an annual shortfall of 20,000 engineers entering the industry. What we really need is to see some of this passion and innovation put into attracting more people from a wealth of backgrounds and abilities to pick up a career in rail, engineering and manufacturing in order to deliver these aspirations.”