Peter Stanton Reports…
The National Skills Academy for Railway Engineering’s Training Matters conference had to be moved to a bigger venue at Pride Park Stadium,Derby to accommodate demand.
Gil Howarth, Chief Executive of NSARE opened the 2012 Training Matters national conference and reviewed the first 18 months of the Academy’s existence. Howarth emphasised the growth of the Academy; now boasting 214 members.
Progress has been encouraged by the government looking for new ways of dealing with training and apprenticeships. Elaine Clark, NSARE Head of Process Development spoke about NSARE’s IT Platform, “Skills Backbone” course. She focused on the Skills Passport National Competency Database, which Network Rail says will be integrated with the new Sentinel Safety Management Information System.
Bill Alexander reviewed RTAS, the Rail Training and Assessment Scheme, while Janet Tomlinson and David Collard from Tribal Education Ltd. described the Inspector’s view.
Appropriately Gary Wilmshurst-Smith then proceeded to give Network Rail’s response and this was followed by the first of several very useful and free flowing question and answer sessions held as the conference progressed.
Themes included continuous professional development and the need to Train the Trainer. Peter Revill from theUniversityofDerbydescribed teaching in the work-based learning sector.
Delegates were briefed on the needs of ETCS, European Train Control System and its effect on the industry workforce. Jim Hubbard fromNewcastleCollegeand Graham Clark from Siemens discussed the training needs of the industry and the requirements of new-build in the context of growth in electrification, the infrastructure and rolling stock.
On the second day Simon Tarr, the Chief Operating Officer of People 1st, the sector skills council for hospitality, explained the history of People 1st and the historical connection with GoSkills.
Following on was Bill Twigg, Apprenticeship Director for SEMTA, the Sector Skills Council for Science, Engineering and Manufacturing Technologies. The session was introduced with the thought provoking comment that safety competencies are important but they are a component of a portfolio of necessary competencies.
Anne Watson, Managing Director of EAL, the specialist, employer-recognised awarding organisation for the engineering and manufacturing industry discussed the role of the awarding body, defined as an organisation that develops and awards qualifications to meet the needs of leavers, employers and others.
Elaine Clark, the Head of Process Development at NSARE, looked at the challenge of forecasting the skills gap. Paul Tabern Business Development Director of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers spoke on Engineering Technicians – Meeting the Challenge.
Ruth Cooper, the Stakeholder Manager for NSARE, regaled delegates with an item on Young Railway Professionals. This energetic body has built itself up very quickly since 2009 and now had over 1300 members. The core aims of YRP are to promote, inspire and bring together young professionals in the sector.
That session finished with Anne Franke the Chief Executive of the Chartered Management Institute delivering a strong message on ‘Great management makes a difference.’
The importance of quality apprenticeships was examined by Martin Ward of the National Apprenticeship Service. Phil East, partnership manager of the Careers Development Group, then spoke about its involvement, through a group of prime contractors, with the “Work Programme.” The Programme provides tailored support for claimants who need more help to undertake active and effective jobseeking.
The Outward Bound Trust, represented by Paul Marchalsea and David Ritchie, gave a useful presentation on how the Trust could facilitate character building and behavioural change. The events worked within psychologically safe yet challenging and adventurous environments.
Peter Donovan, apprentice programme manager for Network Rail ran through the current apprenticeship programme and introduced three ‘year three’ apprentices.