Employability in the Railway Sector in the Light of Digitalisation and Automation

Employability in the Railway Sector in the Light of Digitalisation and Automation 

The final report for the CER and ETF EU social partner project, EDA Rail draws central, forward-facing conclusions on the topic of maintaining employability, which is highly relevant for our rail sector in the rapidly changing environment we face today.

Rail workers do outstanding work every day, especially in these difficult times, and it is thanks to their efforts that the European rail sector can thrive.

The EDA Rail project identifies the key drivers of current and future employment for the wide array of professions in our sector. However, success can only be achieved with motivated, qualified, and socially protected employees who are well prepared for the future.

The section of the report focussing on examples of good practice provides an overview of what national social partners, employee representatives, and companies are already doing to find answers to the developments caused by digitalisation, automation, and other factors such as demographic change, health, and diversity. These developments offer opportunities for our sector.

Nevertheless, employees must be actively involved in the change process and their concerns taken seriously – a point that is addressed in the final section of the report, which outlines measures to support employment and formulates recommendations on employability based on the EDA Rail project’s most important findings.


The European rail social partners, the European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF) and the Community of European Railway and Infrastructure Companies (CER) collaborated together to better understand current digital trends and their impact on employment in the railway sector.

The project will ran for 18 months, beginning in March 2020. Its aim is to address the impact of digitalisation on employment, working conditions, required tasks at work, as well as workers’ skills. The project also focuses on how social partners can shape technological changes through social dialogue. The rail social partners are ready to contribute to the upcoming political debate on the basis of an in-depth and EU-wide analysis of the issues.

The project’s aims are:

  • Review the CER-ETF Joint Recommendations on the concept of employability and decide on follow-up actions;
  • Map the drivers of change, especially digitalisation and automation which have an impact on employability;
  • Inform and advise rail companies and trade union representatives about existing good practices in the field of change management and employability, and just transition, with the objective to maintain attractive working conditions in the sector.

The project examines the following areas:

  • Digitalisation: new skills, tools and training methods for rail staff;
  • Internal measures to manage change;
  • Automation, digitalisation and new models of maintenance;
  • The role of social partners in anticipating and accompanying change stemming from digitalisation and the impact of change on employee-customer relations.

Each of these four areas was addressed in a dedicated workshop gathering trade unions, employers, and experts. The objective was to map and analyse the main domains affected by the changes that are relevant for employability and the employers’ and employees’ needs on these topics. Furthermore, all workshops aimed to identify and collect examples and good practices of how companies, employees and trade unions deal with these changes.

The project concluded with a Final Conference, gathering social partners, experts, European Commission and European Parliament officials.

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