There’s a lot of people looking for work at the moment and there’s never been a more important time to get the right people in the right roles. In March 2020 Covid-19 dramatically changed things overnight. Decades of growth and optimism were wiped out, with passenger numbers falling off a cliff. We’re now at an important moment and need to rethink how we do recruitment, as it has a vital role in the recovery of the transport industry.
There’s a lot of frustration out there right now: leadership teams simply can’t find the right calibre of senior managers while there’s so much market uncertainty.
This is why it’s really important to work with experts, as recruitment can be a costly process if you don’t get the right person. These decisions shouldn’t be rushed through to fill a vacancy, because there’s the danger of the position becoming vacant again within a few months. No decision is better than a bad decision!
It’s important to understand exactly what you need and the talent you are looking to attract. Sometimes businesses get bogged down with what they are told they need without really understanding the business needs. For example, we work with clients to identify the qualities they need, so they can have total confidence in the candidates we provide. Our connections with the transport industry and our team of experts and recruiters – many of whom have held senior positions in bus, coach and rail companies – give us insight, and the ability to offer something different.
Bringing new blood into the industry also presents opportunities to tackle diversity, and I’m a strong supporter for change. The sector needs to reinvent itself. We need to see the last 18 months as a ‘reset’. The traditional nine-to-five is unlikely to return, which means transport operators need to find new ways to attract customers. And with a jobs market in a state of disruption, there’s never been a better time to tempt new talent into the industry. Make sure you are casting your net further to find the right people, whether that’s looking to other industries or simply seeking completely different skill sets.
It may be a period of uncertainty in the transport sector, but industry reforms are presenting opportunities as well as challenges, which is good news for recruitment.
I’ve seen first-hand how rail companies are starting to look to the future: The Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail and nationalisation of our railways in all but name has created some uneasiness, particularly for those senior executives in the regions who worry that local decision-making may become more centralised. It is going to be a very different environment going forward and our bespoke, partnership approach is perfectly placed to help businesses in this new era.
Conversely, the long-forgotten bus industry is seeing a surge of enthusiasm and optimism, with the Bus Back Better national strategy signalling the start of a new period of investment, as part of plans to tackle congestion and achieve net zero carbon emissions. Industry reforms may help to attract more talent to the bus industry, and it may also mean that we will need to do more to retain talent in rail.
The job market is currently thriving, but it is not always possible for individual companies to find the right candidate with the ideal skills. It’s important to understand the challenges and constraints faced by each individual client, and tailor your search to find exactly what they’re looking for. For example, we have a unique ‘one stop solution’ that is so much more than just filling vacant roles. It can start with ‘mystery shopping’, which helps us identify exactly what a business needs, from training programmes to leadership qualities.
This joined-up thinking means we’re part of the ongoing journey, which means our reputation is built on getting the right people in the right roles first time round. As many of us have worked in the roles that we’re tasked with filling, we can empathise with the environment in which prospective candidates will be working and also understand the challenges faced by their line manager and what they will be specifically looking for from the successful person. This gives companies an extra layer of confidence at this critical time for the industry.
Overall, we need to see this ‘reset’ as a time to reflect and get the best talent to drive forward change in the transport industry. At Tracsis Transport Consultancy and with our new Executive Search and Selection, we’re looking forward to helping to usher in a new wave of talent for both new and existing clients.
Alex Warner is the chair of the West Midlands Grand Rail Collaboration and Network Rail Supervisory Board for the region. He was previously chief executive of Flash Forward Consulting before it was acquired by Tracsis in the first quarter of 2021 creating Tracsis Transport Consultancy
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