Over 75% of the EU population lives in cities and urban areas. As such, cities are remarkable places for innovation, and can be viewed as complex webs of interconnected services and technologies. With the emergence of shared mobility services, electric vehicles, and the integration of smart technologies, the urban landscape has undergone a profound transformation, reshaping how residents get around.
At the same time, today’s cities face escalating challenges: environmental and energy-related issues, pollution and health concerns, and the persistent problem of traffic congestion. In order to keep up, the urban mobility industry is rapidly evolving, and requires increasingly qualified professionals. This evolution has unfortunately revealed a skills gap which urgently needs to be addressed.
There are several reasons why an urban mobility skills gap is currently presenting itself. Firstly, increased automation and digitalisation provide valuable insights for city planning, traffic management, and service optimisation; becoming standard in the industry. Additionally, demographic changes and the recent shift in ways of working have also resulted in large-scale changes, shifting the jobs and skills required for the urban mobility sector. As today’s urban mobility systems generate vast amounts of data, the need for digital, data analytics, and programming skills are a must.
On the other hand, Europe has intensified its focus on sustainable urban mobility, aiming to have at least 100 European cities climate neutral by 2030 (Climate-neutral and Smart Cities Mission, 2021). Undoubtedly, professionals in the field must possess a deep understanding of environmental issues and sustainable practices while also retaining proficiency in urban planning, green infrastructure development, and the integration of renewable energy sources in transportation.
As the EU Urban Mobility Observatory calls attention to, it is necessary to organise a just and fair transition to more sustainable urban mobility that carefully weighs the social and economic implications of major shifts. Thus, professionals capable of generating innovative ideas and translating them into actionable plans, or even establishing new enterprises, will play a crucial role in the future of urban mobility in Europe.
As there is an undeniable need for new skills to navigate the changing urban mobility ecosystem; governments, businesses and educational institutions need to collaborate to foster an environment that encourages continuous learning and adaptation. Universities and other higher education institutions have an especially substantial role to play in equipping the next generation of urban mobility professionals with these necessary skills.
In Europe, initiatives are not lacking. In 2008, the EU created the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) to strengthen its ability to find innovative solutions to specific global challenges. This unique initiative drives innovation by bringing together business, education and research to tackle complex problems, across nine knowledge and innovation communities. EIT Urban Mobility is dedicated to solving the mobility challenges that cities face today.
In terms of equipping the next generation with the skills to innovate, the EIT Urban Mobility Master School features three cutting-edge degree programmes: Sustainable Urban Mobility Transitions, Smart Mobility Data Science and Analytics, and Business Engineering in Urban Mobility. These Master of Science programmes integrate advanced technical education, with a focus on innovation and entrepreneurship, to tackle future mobility challenges. Working with an international approach, the EIT Urban Mobility Master School gathers talented students from around the world to be part of a collaborative, innovative and enterprising solution. In addition to their educational programming, EIT Urban Mobility actively identifies and invests in start-ups with viable urban mobility solutions and supports them through matchmaking and funding opportunities.
EIT Urban Mobility firmly believes that education, innovation and entrepreneurship in urban mobility are not just a requirement but a gateway to a more sustainable, connected and resilient future for our cities.
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