Courses to help futureproof rail industry

February 27, 2024 BY

There is currently a 70,000 people skills shortage in the rail industry. Photo: CPB CONTRACTORS

DEAKIN University and the Australasian Railway Association (ARA) are hoping to futureproof the railway workforce with an inaugural rail-specific micro-credential university course.

The new program is slated to be rolled out in Deakin University’s School of Engineering next month and will focus on both civil and electrical mechanical systems.

It will feature two micro credential classes of “Railway Engineering: Design” and “Railway Engineering: Planning and Maintenance”.

Both will be incorporated into post-graduate and undergraduate engineering degrees.

Recent ARA data from December 2023 suggests there is a 70,000-strong shortfall of Australian rail workers, with more than a third of the workforce being over the age of 50.

ARA chief executive officer Caroline Wilkie said the micro credential courses like the one at Deakin University will help the industry from facing “a retirement cliff.”


The partnership program will aim to “futureproof” the rail industry. Photo: SUPPLIED


“Workforce development is a key priority for the ARA and we have several major initiatives aimed at addressing the 70,000 skills gaps to ensure a productive, safe and efficient industry.

“These new courses at Deakin University will provide a strong grounding for engineering students interested in a career in rail, as well as give current rail employees a competitive edge.

“These courses will enable students to upskill in railway track design, safety standards and maintenance, and understand how to navigate real-world scenarios.

“With a strong investment pipeline of $154 billion over the next 15 years and so many city-shaping projects across the country, it is the perfect time to consider a rewarding career in rail.”

Deakin University head of civil and environment engineering Professor Ashim Debnath hoped the courses would be a hit.

“Recent growth and developments in the railway sector across Australia have created the urgent need for more qualified professionals to address various multidisciplinary challenges faced in planning, design, and maintenance of railway infrastructure systems,” he said.

“Informed by the latest industry standards and guidelines, these courses have been co-designed by Deakin University and ARA with input from key railway stakeholders.

“These courses are suitable for anyone who is interested in pursuing a career in the railway sector, as well as to the current railway professionals who want to upskill, learn about the latest practices, and connect with experts from across the sector.”

Geelong applicants hoping to graduate and work on a local major rail project are out of luck, unfortunately, as the federal government cancelled Geelong Fast Rail in November.

For more information, head to deakin.edu.au