A record number of people enrolled on Institute of Railway Operators certificate courses last year.
Says Fiona Tordoff, chief executive of the IRO, ‘Our basic purpose is to help railway professionals make the most of themselves and their railway, so obviously a lot of what we try to do is open up access to the widest number of people to the learning opportunities that suit them.
‘We reviewed what might be stopping people from coming on to the programme and took quite a radical step by cutting back on the price of the course to make it ultra affordable for organisations and individuals who pay for themselves.’
Other barriers to learning which the IRO has tried to resolve are to do with how people think of themselves in relation to formal learning. Under a scheme called ‘Recognising Prior Learning’ it is possible for work and life experiences to give weight to an application, so people who don’t think of themselves as ‘academic’ don’t have to.
The Institute of Railway Operators offers three levels of programmes which are accredited by the Glasgow Caledonian University. The Certificate is seen as the entry level and is open to anyone who went straight to work after school or those new to the rail industry. It takes just a year to complete and is a great way of getting an overview of all aspects of railway operations.
How hard is the course once you’ve decided to go for it and worked out your money? Says Lynda Dixey, who started the course in October 2012 and is now half way through, ‘I’ve been out of formal learning for over 10 years and left school around 30 years ago. I have a busy job and a busy family life so returning to learning was a bit of a shock – but in a good way! I’ve been to about four Saturday tutorials in the six months and managed to submit all my work on time, so it can be done.’
If you are interested in the Certificate, Diploma or Degree courses, you can register your interest on the IRO website at: www.railwayoperators.co.uk/register or call for a copy of the new brochure on 01785 248113.