The sector can be considered a rough diamond of Europe’s industrial fabric which has several strengths:
- A highly skilled, competent and committed workforce
- A robust industrial ecosystem built on a specialised and sophisticated supply chain
- Global technological leadership
- A growing and demanding internal market
- A key role in the de-carbonisation of our transport system
IndustriAll European Trade Union raises its concern that action is needed to deal with the significant competitive pressure from emerging nations, specifically from Asian industrial giants. At the same time these markets are becoming less and less accessible for European companies which puts this highly innovative and export-oriented sector at a significant competitive disadvantage. For our European federation, an industrial action plan for the sector should focus on the following issues:
- More support for continued innovation regarding a new generation of rail vehicles, energy management and high performance networks
- Tackling the challenge of digitalisation of products, services and production processes
- Creating a fair global level-playing field with reciprocity in market access
- Stimulate a modal shift towards environmentally-friendly transport systems like the development of intermodal freight transport
- Addressing the skills challenge. Indeed, 30% of the workforce will retire in the next decade. At the same time the workplace will be digitalised while the sector will also have to integrate technologies from other sectors (energy, automotive)
Our views were presented during this high-level conference on the competitiveness of the rail supply industry organised by the European Commission. The conference was attended by 200 representatives and stakeholders of the sector. It followed a resolution in the European Parliament on the sector, prepared by German MEP Martina Werner. As a result of this first Rail Supply Forum, the Commission will put in place a structured industrial dialogue and will set up expert groups on the different challenges that were mentioned during the conference.
IndustriAll European Trade Union fully supports this initiative and will actively contribute to the promotion of an innovative and sustainable rail supply industry in Europe. In our view, this sector still has great potential for creating new, high quality jobs within European industry. IndustriAll Europe is convinced that this sector, which was at the bedrock of the first industrial revolution, will also be a key player in the future of European industry.