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NTAR – First through the door…

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Some of the first to use NTAR’s modern facilities will be a group of 12 trainees from Baltic Training Services (BTS).

The trainee programme is the fourth to be run by BTS this academic year. It aims to remove the headache of recruiting new apprentices by giving a pool of aspiring rail engineers and technicians an introduction to the industry before working to place them on apprenticeships with local companies.

Delivered over 12 weeks, courses include mandatory elements of PTS and track induction, and cover a variety of engineering disciplines.

BTS, a family-owned business based in Newton Aycliffe, holds an apprenticeship contract with the Skills Funding Agency (SFA) – a government agency set up in 2010 to apportion funding for further education programmes. In this academic year more than 100 trainees will commence apprenticeships via BTS traineeships. The initiative is helping to plug the level 2 skills shortage while developing young adults within a meaningful career.

BTS Rail engineering traineeships are proving popular, with more than 70 per cent of trainees commencing either track maintenance or signalling apprenticeships to date.

Training partnership

BTS Rail Training Division is led by Brendan McGrath. Speaking about the company’s partnership with NTAR, he said, ‘BTS are delighted to be associated with NTAR in this class- leading training facility.

‘We look forward to supporting the next generation of apprentices at NTAR as well as delivering all other aspects of rail engineering and construction, training and assessments.’

Says Simon Rennie, NTAR’s general manager, ‘We are delighted to be working with Baltic Training Services. BTS provide additional breadth to what NTAR offers and very much complement NTAR’s current course offerings and partnerships. We look forward to welcoming BTS and their learners and delegates to NTAR from November.’

BTS safety critical rail trainer Jonny Hollyman said, ‘From a trainer perspective, basing the trainees here is ideal with the very latest in practical and classroom training facilities to hand.’

BTS rail engineering trainee Alisha Gerry said, ‘I am really looking forward to gaining the safety tickets and practical skills training to start my career in the sector. I think it is a good opportunity for people of my age.’

Supporting the sector’s workforces

Since achieving NSARE accreditation in April 2015, BTS Rail Training Division is already supporting a range of key sector employers with safety critical training. The furthest north of these being for Strathclyde Partnership for Transport and their staff and contractors on the Glasgow Subway. BTS also holds an apprenticeship contract with Skills Development Scotland.

BTS Rail Training Division also supports rail contractors with existing staff that have not yet had the opportunity to complete the NVQ Level 2 in Rail Engineering Track Maintenance, offering flexible training hours tailored to suit individual needs.

Says Brendan, ‘The aim is to be supportive of the sector’s workforces in retaining and engaging existing staff by providing an appropriate experience 12-month development programme.’ Also in April this year, BTS gained approval on the MOD Career Transition Partnership (CTP) scheme for military veterans to undertake PTS and track induction. This was strengthened in September when approval on the MOD Enhanced Learning Credit Administration System (ELCAS) was gained, giving service leavers the opportunity to complete a Level 3 Award in Rail Engineering Track Maintenance.

In the most recent January 2015 Ofsted inspection, BTS achieved a ‘Good’ with many outstanding features.

‘We are committed to continuous improvement and aim to be an outstanding provider for all: NSARE, Ofsted, our partners and our employees,’ added Brendan.


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