German states wooing migrants to become train drivers

In Germany there is a labour shortage in the field of train drivers. That’s why some German states have launched training programs to attract migrants and refugees to fill the gap.

According to a recent article by the German waz media group, the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia is looking for hundreds of train (locomotive) drivers (‘LokfĂĽhrer’). The industry is facing a significant labour shortage which is expected to grow in the coming years.

While North-Rhine Westphalia is Germany’s most populous state, the shortage is felt in other states as well. Meeting the demand for train drivers has been a challenge the national train service Deutsche Bahn and hundreds of private transportation companies have been tackling for years.

Programs to attract and recruit skilled workers in this field were launched several years ago. Recent figures by the Allianz pro Schiene association show that those programs have shown results, and that in 2018, the number of train drivers grew by 7% compared to 2017. According to Allianz pro Schiene, there were around 46,800 employed train drivers in Germany in 2018, for trains as well as subway and trams.

However, demand is growing faster than there are new employees to fill the gap. According to WAZ, there are not enough applicants for the training. For every 100 spots, there are only 23 applicants. There are around 400 different transportation companies in Germany, all of which are looking to recruit, a spokesperson of a qualification training is quoted by WAZ as saying.

Refugees for training

That’s why many public transportation companies are looking to attract refugees and migrants to the job. Deutsche Bahn wants to offer locomotive training courses for refugees as of 2020, WAZ reports. In the past, Deutsche Bahn has offered qualification training to more than 400 refugees in other mechanical jobs including mechatronics or track construction.

North Rhine-Westphalia has launched “Fokus Bahn NRW”, a joint project by different transportation companies to recruit personnel and optimize services. Part of the program is a training aimed at migrants and refugees in the Arabic language. It will include extra sessions on German vocabulary specific to the locomotive industry, WAZ reports.

The training for locomotive drivers lasts 15 months.

A refugee from Syria who joined an information session of the “Fokus Bahn NRW” project has had trouble finding a permanent job in Germany. Though he studied four years of agriculture in Syria before he came, he had to start from scratch in Germany. He worked as a temp worker; as a train driver, he hopes to make a secure living for his family.

© InfoMigrants 

Most of the information in this article was taken from the German report on with dpa.

For more information about “Fokus Bahn NRW” and upcoming information sessions, visit or the Stiftung Bildung Handwerk, the educational institution implementing the training.

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