This year’s Rail Week is all about diversity in jobs and people. Paul Case, National Chair of Young Rail Professionals (YRP) and Project Manager at London Underground give his thoughts

Let me be blunt, the Rail Industry has an image problem. The ‘traditional’ image of a railway worker for many evokes thoughts of yellow hats and oiled hands, or conductor’s hats and ticket machines – typically worn by men.

Gender and BAME diversity in the sector is undeniably poor. A study by the fantastic Women in Rail (WiR) last year revealed that just 16% of the roles in the UK rail industry are filled by women – roughly unchanged since 1914. In a sector crying out for new skill to plug the widening gap (56,000 more technicians a year needed, for a start) this is untenable.

Fortunately, the industry is starting to take notice. This is evident in the growth of organisations such as YRP and WiR and in the actions of organisations such as the National Skills Academy for Rail, RSSB (Rail Safety and Standards Board) and Rail Delivery Group alongside leading industry figures to address this inequality. But we need to all keep doing more and changing our behaviours, to let the country and the world know that(1) Rail is open for anyone with the right skills and (2) that we are not all engineers and train drivers. There are literally hundreds of different roles essential to keep our industry running.

Rail Week 2017 is yours and the industry’s opportunity to spread that message. Bringing together organisations and business from across the sector, this is a week that celebrates the diversity of opportunities available within the railway industry and opens doors for 100’s of school, college and university students across the UK to see what career may await them in Rail.

The industry won’t change in a day. But I’m looking forward to doing my part in changing our image and attracting the best talent, to ensure we are and continue to be a sector known for change, innovation and inclusiveness.