The Allure of the Railway Industry. How to make Engineering Sexy Again

What I love about my job is that filmmaking opens the doors to new industries and new subjects. This time my new client Eversholt Rail Group took me on a journey about the UK railway industry.

According to the government sources, investment in the UK rail sector is at record levels. Network Rail, the owners and operators of the UK’s rail infrastructure, have committed £38 billion to spend on operating and expanding the network between 2014 and 2019,  and the UK government will spend a further £9 billion. Scottish Ministers have also committed to a £5 billion package of funding and investment in Scotland’s railways during the same period. This is the largest investment in the UK rail sector since the Victorian era!

Such investment gives a promise of stable jobs, career progression and variety of employment options - at least for the next few years.  You would have thought that this will make it a no-brainer for both young graduates and experienced professionals to apply for jobs in the UK rail industry.   However, it is not that simple.

First of all, the rail industry is not an obvious choice.  If you are a finance graduate, would you rather work for an investment bank, an oil company or a rail company?  Many wouldn't even consider rail.

Second, it is widely acknowledged that there is a shortage of qualified engineers in the UK, and there is stiff competition for the talent.  Given the lack of large-scale engineering initiatives for decades, the rail industry faces the problem of a "generation gap", when experienced engineers might retire before they transfer their skills and knowledge to a younger generation.  Further aggravation comes from the lack of any significant advance in the diversity or make-up of the sector, particularly the gender gap, despite numerous campaigning initiatives over the past 30 years.  Finally, there is an image problem - engineering jobs are still regarded as not very prestigious.

The 2015 report ‘The State of Engineering’ shows that the shortage skills could cost the UK economy up to £27bn a year if companies fail to hire 182,000 engineers annually until 2022.  However, the interesting paradox is that while the UK does not produce enough engineers to meet the demand, graduates complain about tough competition for available jobs.  How is this possible?  

The experts believe that there might be 3 potential explanations (source link):

  1. Engineering companies require highly specialised skills which graduates don't have, and many companies do not make an effort to design relevant training programmes which require additional effort and investment, whether this is internal training or collaboration with educational institutions. 
  2. The large, well-known firms have the brand names and marketing budgets to attract huge numbers of applications, leading many graduates to end up fighting over the same few jobs. The smaller companies, struggle to get enough applicants just to fill their roles, let alone compete for the best engineers.
  3. Finally, engineering firms don't sell themselves well enough compared to other employers that target graduates, such as financial and professional service firms. 

My client, the Eversholt Rail Group, is one of those companies that breaks the vicious circle by taking an innovative approach in their recruitment and marketing strategies, and more importantly, changes the landscape of railway industry by its all-inclusive and supportive corporate culture, where every job and every career path are equally valued.  

I had the pleasure of meeting the new generation of rail sector professionals who talked about their jobs with such excitement and pride it made me feel envious.

I am glad that I could make a small contribution by helping Eversholt with the production of videos which showcase the company's nurturing culture, where people, their well-being and their future are as important as the business itself.

Watch this video and please get in touch if you are interested in video production services at