Transport is one the EU's key economic sectors, keeping the economy moving and ensuring the delivery of goods and services. The EU transport sector employs over 10 million workers, accounts for 5% of gross domestic product (GDP) and comprises approximately 1.1 million enterprises. Transport also enables the movement of people, which is vital for social inclusion and ensuring well-being.
The EU transport sector is currently facing several challenges, including an ageing workforce, staff shortages, a lack of competitiveness, poor resilience to external shocks (such as wars or pandemics) and climate change. The sector is also undergoing significant changes including automation, digitalisation and the rising use of alternative energy sources.
To deal with these challenges, the sector must become more diverse and inclusive, as this gives the sector a competitive advantage by offering a variety of different perspectives, skills, and experiences. Currently, only 22% of transport workers are women, even less (2 – 5%) for certain professions, such as pilots, train drivers and seafarers. Furthermore, the employment rate of people with disabilities is below 50%, much lower than the overall employment rate (72.5%). Among transport users, factors such as gender, age, employment, income, education, car ownership and household size negatively impact the extent to which individuals can access and utilise transport.
The Ambassadors for #DiversityInTransport was launched to help address some of the key challenges and seeks to promote diversity, equality and inclusion within the EU transport sector. This is through raising awareness and sharing information on and developing and implementing initiatives to promote diversity in the EU transport sector, both from the perspective of transport workers and transport users. At present, 70 Ambassadors from across 18 different countries have joined the network, representing 30 different nationalities from all over the world, representing all types of organisations, transport modes and diversity of users.
The first meeting of the newly created network took place on 28 March 2023 in Brussels. It was the first large scale, hybrid collaboration event between the Ambassadors, who used the opportunity to discuss various topics related to diversity and inclusion in the EU transport sector and to network.
The meeting started with welcome speeches from Mr Herald Ruijters, DG Mobility and Transport Deputy Director-General (acting), Mr Raúl Medina Caballero, Eurocontrol Director General, and moderator Prof. José Manuel Viegas. Thereafter, the Ambassadors launched into a series of discussions to brainstorm ideas to improve the diversity, equality, and inclusion among transport users and the transport workforce in the EU, that the Network could take forward. The Network brings together a truly unique group of individuals working across various sectors, types of companies/organisations and a variety of backgrounds, as a result of which many creative ideas and insights emerged from these discussions, including the possibilities of leveraging technology (e.g. via an app) to reduce access barriers, finding alternative platforms/channels to communicate information to specific groups of individuals (e.g. via social media or the radio), focusing on user-friendlyness and human-centered design when delivering transport services and the importance of including diverse groups of individuals in all discussions and considering that several forms of discrimination and/or marginalization can intersect. The meeting was closed by Ms Adina Vălean, Commissioner for Transport.
The International Association of Public Transport (UITP) have had four representatives appointed as Diversity in Transport Ambassadors: Mohamed Mezghani, Secretary General, Lindsey Mancini, Acting Director of the Member Service Department, Brigitte Ollier, Senior Advisor on Social Affairs and Christel Goossens, Manager of Business and Human Resources Committee.
“It was a pleasure to participate in-person in the meeting of Ambassadors for Diversity in Transport that was organised by the European Commission in the premises of Eurocontrol”, says Brigitte Ollier. “Meeting the other participants and brainstorming on possible initiatives to promote diversity was a very exciting exercise. From a UITP viewpoint both perspectives, looking at transport users and promoting a more diverse workforce are crucial.”
Brigitte Ollier continues: “Mentalities are evolving (fortunately) and the level of awareness for diversity and better gender balance in the transport sector is increasing. It is however still challenging to identify and implement the effective initiatives and solutions that will pave the way to more equal and inclusive transport for all. Working on case studies was therefore a fruitful way to put our heads together and imagine different approaches.”
For further information on the Ambassadors for #DiversityInTransport visit here.
Photo credit: Eurocontrol
Article author: DG MOVE