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New training network to provide quality-assured centres to rail firms and supply chain

A new training network, a collaboration between Network Rail and other rail and training leaders in the UK, will be launched tomorrow (13 April) as an umbrella under which companies and the supply chain can buy assured high-quality training.

During the first day of Infrarail, Neil Robertson, the CEO of the National Skills Academy for Rail (NSAR), said that the network was designed to give companies the confidence they need to train employees in quality-stamped courses.

Revealing this exclusively during the first of three Platform sessions, facilitated by RTM’s business executive Roy C Rowlands, Robertson argued that some of the training existent in the industry is “not of the quality we would want for the rail sector”, and that it’s not so much about the quantity of training centres anymore, but rather their quality.

“The three of us [Robertson, NTAR’s Simon Rennie, and Network Rail’s head of professional development and training Guy Wilmshurst-Smith] are meeting tomorrow to launch and plan for a new training network where you can be part of a network of high-quality, guaranteed, quality-assured training. We want Network Rail to quality-assure the centres so that people buying in the training can be sure it’s of high quality, and that will be made available to everyone,” he told the audience.

“We need to have that geographically. We’ve actually got most of the training we need – it’s actually about improving the quality, moving up the level to deal with the digital, and bringing more level 3 apprentices rather than level 2. And crucially – and we don’t have the answer to this – it’s about how we get more high-quality trainers.”

Wilmshurst-Smith, also part of the Platform’s panel, argued that the Rail Supply Group’s (RSG’s) new skills strategy helps ensure the industry achieves these goals, adding: “We are not going to achieve our diversity ambitions with the current range of very traditional types of training we do. We have to create training that is more exciting, that creates a culture of innovation.

“And that’s what will make it more attractive to a wider group of people.”

Later in the discussion, Robertson highlighted that part of ongoing discussions must also focus on leadership and management as well as apprenticeships, as already advocated in Nicola Shaw’s major review into Network Rail and the rail industry.

“Now that we’ve got our story on apprenticeships in order, even if Nicola Shaw hadn’t recommended it, we’d be pushing the industry to develop an approach on leadership and management,” he added.

“We’re going to present that approach to the RSG council at the end of June.”


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