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New NSAR scheme to improve skills recruitment and apprenticeship management

A new system that manages the placement of apprentices, graduates and students in the rail industry has been launched by the National Skills Academy for Rail (NSAR) and has already garnered the backing of 20 major rail heavyweights, including Transport for London (TfL) and Network Rail.

The recruitment service, called NSAR-CONNECT, has been put in place to tackle the skills shortage in rail by matching talent from oversubscribed schemes with organisations that don’t have enough suitable candidates to fill empty positions.

The new scheme will come in to assist employers with managing their September 2017 intake of talent, and help them recover their apprenticeship levy payment more effectively.

It’s estimated that NSAR-CONNECT could save the industry over £3m in costs for recruitment, and alongside Network Rail and TfL also has the support of:

  • Stagecoach
  • Alstom Transport UK & Ireland
  • Amey
  • Arriva
  • Balfour Beatty
  • Bombardier Transportation UK
  • RDG Group
  • Carillion
  • Colas
  • Costain Group
  • Morgan Sindall
  • Siemens
  • Hitachi
  • Thales UK
  • Virgin Trains East Coast
  • VolkerRail
  • IntoRail (through the YRP)

Speaking about the initiative, Mike Brown, transport commissioner and NSAR chairman, said: “I am delighted to express my support for NSAR-CONNECT, both in capacity as chair of NSAR and as TfL’s commissioner. Our challenge is to attract people to our industry and ensure they have the right skills and capabilities to do the work.

“I see NSAR-CONNECT as a key building block in the wider Rail Sector Skills Delivery Plan to secure the right people in the right place at the right time.”

Neil Franklin, head of skills intelligence at NSAR, explained that the scheme has been developed to support the rail sector in “finding the next generation of talent”, and promised it will help the industry “meet the challenging government targets for 20,000 new apprentices by 2020”.

“Like the UCAS clearing service, we will be connecting people to openings they might not have initially considered while ensuring enthusiastic and able candidates who could be the future generation of industry leaders are not lost to other industry sectors,” added Franklin, who spoke about training and skills at RTM’s Platform sessions during last year’s Infrarail.

Network Rail’s head of training and development Guy Wilmshurst-Smith, who was also part of the skills Platform at Infrarail, also spoke of the organisation’s excitement about NSAR-CONNECT.

“Network Rail is delighted to support NSAR-CONNECT,” he said. “Like many larger companies, we have insufficient places on our apprenticeship scheme for the many thousands of high-quality applications we receive.

“NSAR-CONNECT allows us to share them with the rest of the industry saving time and money and most importantly enables these high calibre people to reach into other parts of the industry they may not have previously considered.”

Wilmhurst-Smith added that supporting the attraction and retention of talent in the industry is something the infrastructure owner cares passionately about, arguing that it “would encourage the industry to get behind NSAR-CONNECT to help us meet the skills needs of our investment plans”.

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