‘Ours is a people company, the continued success of which is reliant on the capabilities, competencies and calibre of our workforce,’ said Tricia O’Neill, Chief Executive Officer of the CCS Group – parent company of Cleshar, speaking at the launch of the new Cleshar Academy.
The Cleshar academy’s no-nonsense avowed aim is : Aspire to Achieve, Inspire to Grow.
‘We are committed to and passionate about investing in the future by providing this – and the next generation – with the academic and manual skills and competencies required to work and succeed in the rail industry,’ she continued.
The purpose-built Cleshar Academy is at Stonebridge Park right at the heart of the railway industry in North West London – just up the road from Old Oak Common and across the tracks from the nerve centres of the West Coast Main Line at the Brent itself.
O’Neill and her team are driving forward a new three pronged strategy aimed at getting people into the rail industry, developing their full potential and encouraging them to stay and build worth while careers.
‘One of the major challenges facing our industry today is dealing with the skills shortage. There are only a finite number of individuals with the required skills to work on the rail infrastructure. There are only a finite number of Handbacks, Welders, Skilled Platelayers.
‘Our solution is simple: Recruit : Train & Retain. We can only deal with skills shortage by increasing the overall pool. We can only fill the gaps caused by retirement by recruiting the next generation.’
The Cleshar Academy underlines Cleshar’s commitment to building a workforce fit to support the future railways of London and the South East. It further supports Cleshar’s focus on strong corporate responsibility and is an integral part of the Mayor of London’s Strategic Labour Needs and Training Targets – a strategy aimed at developing a sustainable future for the railway industry.
‘By promoting the industry and recruiting, training and continually developing our own people our company can play a part in dealing with the shortage. Indeed, we feel strongly that it is incumbent on every contracting company privileged enough to work in the rail industry to provide training schemes for their own workforces,’ says Tricia O’Neill.
Core importance is attached to retaining staff by investing in their careers. ‘Once recruited and trained we can retain our scarce resources by providing structured career paths for each individual and opportunities for their ambitions to be realised. By recruiting, training and promoting individuals irrespective of their race, religion or sex we can ensure that our company is representative of the diverse city we serve, argues O’Neill.
Apprenticeship training and up skilling of those already deployed is a key part of Cleshar culture and is embedded in every part of the company with programmes in rail engineering, warehousing, administration, IT, quantity surveying, training and management. Apprenticeship recruitment is targeted at disadvantaged & underrepresented groups to demonstrate the company’s commitment to inclusion.
Fit for Rail’s Future
Cleshar’s future strategy is simple – to attract, invest and retain the best people to ensure it is “Fit for Rail’s Future” by:
• Training, developing & nurturing men and women of all ages and skill levels from grassroots to fully qualified technicians or graduate level engineers;
• Promoting the railway to children from primary school level upwards, through junior workshops;
• Engaging with school leavers and unemployed people in the community looking for an opportunity to make a difference;
• Encouraging & developing those with unique skills and talents to achieve sustainable goals for their future and the future of the railway industry.
The Cleshar Academy is a purpose built training facility designed to accommodate all in-house training and development programmes and facilitate its Apprenticeship Scheme. It has been designed to provide an innovative, inclusive, engaging and dynamic space for learning & development and is supported by a replica track tunnel and track welding training area.
Cleshar is working closely with the following partners to deliver a sustainable future in rail:
• Transport for London & the London Transport Museum
• Network Rail
• A Fairer Chance
• Four Counties Training
‘Cleshar is committed to the continuing and enhanced development of our workforce to meet the future needs of the rail industry. I am delighted to announce the launch of the Cleshar Academy, which is the core of the company’s training, educational and personal development programmes.
‘Our business is dedicated to offering the opportunity of development to all and to building a strong culture of continuous learning. The Cleshar Academy also offers our existing staff opportunity to both be mentored and to mentor and contribute to the next generation. Our academy will play a key part in delivering our objective of meeting the future needs of the industry.’
Tricia O’Neill thanked everyone on the Cleshar event team including Alicia, Eileen and Patricia and the ambassadors representing Cleshar’s Apprenticeship and Graduate Programmes. ‘We are extremely proud of each and every one of you,’ she said.