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Digital revolution vs transport labour market

May 19 2016 18:39
Carin Smith

Leipzig – Co-operation is needed between unions, companies and governments to ensure transport workers are protected from the revolution caused in the industry due to digitalisation, Stephen Cotton, general secretary of the International Transport Workers’ Federation, said on Thursday.

He took part in a panel discussion on the digital revolution and the transport labour market at the global summit of the International Transport Forum (ITF) taking place in Leipzig, Germany.

“These issues must be treated on a fair basis to ensure that both workers and investors are protected. We as union members have an open mind, but we do not want people losing jobs. That is why re-skilling of workers for the digital impact is so important for us as part of a constructive dialogue in the transport industry,” explained Cotton.

Structural change

Marten Blix of the Research Institute for Industrial Economics in Sweden agreed on the importance of retraining workers in a transport labour market that has increasingly become polarised and automated.

"We must re-think the education system if the pace of change in the transport industry is faster than workers can adjust. It will not be enough just to take a few courses here and there. The key would be for life-long learning and a smooth structural change,” explained Blix.

Christian Labrot, president of the International Road Transport Union (IRU) explained that in Germany it is expected that there will be a shortage of 20 000 truck drivers per year over the next few years. About 25% of all the truck drivers in the country are over 55-years-old and less than 3% are younger than 25 years old.

“The digital revolution in the transport market means drivers will need the right skills set and all roleplayers need to engage in constructive dialogue for the future,” he said.

Randolf Wohrl, head of strategic partnerships at moove! Group, emphasised that in general, it is accepted that change is needed in the transport industry.

“New players like on-demand platforms are catalysts and eventually consumers will decide what they want, “ he said.

 - Fin24 is a guest of the International Transport Forum at its global summit in Leipzig.

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