WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff’s Manchester-based rail team has recruited eight young rail engineers in the past two months as it tries to counter the skills shortage facing an industry where the average age of an engineer is 54 years old.
WSP said there is already a deficit of high quality rail engineers working in the region at a time when the number of contracts available within the sector is growing.
Tony Kearns, operations director for rail at WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff, said “The average age of an engineer in the UK is 54, which means it’s only a few years before we experience a huge loss in specialist skills and knowledge when those engineers retire, unless we do something to tackle the problem now.”
WSP’s new wave of engineers includes Michalis Pattouras, graduate engineer; Michalis Giannakou, also graduate; Richard Maitland, project manager, who graduated in 2007; Darren Meacher, apprentice; Daniel Sanchez Clemente, graduate engineer; Sam Perrin, apprentice; and Benjamin Flynn, apprentice. Andy Dunbar, rail planner, joined from working on the Fast Metro Riyadh Metro project in Saudi Arabia.
The Manchester rail business, based at the company’s Oxford Road office, has grown to 150 people in 2015.
WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff is working on several large rail projects domestically and internationally, and was recently appointed to deliver railway systems designs and engineering for HS2 Phase 2 in a contract worth £15m over five years. Since 2007, the company has been delivery partner for Transport for Greater Manchester, and is part of the project team delivering the city’s Metrolink expansion.
Thousands of engineering jobs will be created by the pipeline of major North West rail improvements and developments, such as the Government’s £1.2bn pledge to rail services across the North. Schemes include the TransPennine electrification programme which is earmarked to be completed by 2022/3, and HS2/3, alongside other national schemes including East/West rail and Crossrail 2 in the South-East.
Kearns said this is an ideal time for young engineers to consider a career in railway engineering, and WSP Parsons Brinkerhoff is looking to recruit and nurture further young talent over the coming months.