The city hires students to drive its trams

Focusing on his dashboard, the 24-year-old is already handling the red and white machine with ease under his coach's watch.

This world is far removed from his daily life as a student studying social work.

“It's a great feeling to have all these wagons behind you,” says the boy with blue eyes and shoulder-length hair, as he takes childhood dreams on the tracks of the Nuremberg Transport Agency's (VAG) training center.

The municipal authority must recruit 160 new drivers every year – metro, tram and bus combined, while the transport sector, like many other professional branches in Germany, suffers from a severe labor shortage.

Unfilled posts

Harald Reuben, director of recruitment and training at VAG, says, “We will only achieve the goal if we use all available possibilities.

The agency therefore published job offers aimed at students, offering part-time positions in line with university schedules.

Nuremberg, in southern Germany, is not the only city to use these different profiles. In Munich, the capital of Bavaria, the local transport authority is touting a “cool” student job that even comes with a free subscription to travel around the city. In Mannheim, in the west of the country, a partnership called “Drive and Study” was established with the local University of Applied Sciences.

Due to recruitment issues, many cities are forced to periodically reduce the frequency of local transport in circulation.

Labor shortages have led public transport workers across Germany to go on strike in recent weeks.

According to the Verdi transport union, many local transport operators report 20 to 30% unfilled positions.

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In Nuremberg, student drivers wear the transporter's red and blue uniform. They must be at least 21 years of age and hold a valid driver's license.

They follow an accelerated four-week training course during university holidays. “Normal” training lasts almost twice as long.

On the menu every day, several hours of theory, exercises in a simulator, and then a real tram. All completed by “homework” at home.

Out of 36 applications received, VAG hired five students, including Benedict Hanne, who never imagined himself in the shoes of a tram driver.

After passing the driver's test and a few days on the tracks with an instructor, he would be left alone at the controls of the machine, twenty hours a week, paid at the industry rate.

Going from classrooms to cockpits in one day doesn't daunt him.

“For exams, I like to drive the tram before I go to university, so my day ends with classes,” says the man, who previously held several student jobs, such as a salesman at a gas station. “But I like to drive at other times of the day and see different people and situations.”

He can't wait to cross the city in “his” tram. “My classmates think it's really cool, and so does my family. They'll be on my tram, that's for sure.”

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