About us

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NSAR Ltd was established with wide railway industry support to help tackle current and future skills needs within the railway engineering industry.

Following two years of research and development, the National Skills Academy for Rail (NSAR) was established in November 2010, when the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation & Skills, Vince Cable, announced that the UK Government would support the Business Plan. NSAR Limited was incorporated in January 2011 as a ‘not for profit’ company, wholly owned by its Members and ‘opened for business’ from its National Office in central London.

We launched our corporate Membership scheme at our first national conference in June 2011; today we have in excess of 350 Member organisations and we are still growing. Our Membership includes railway companies, private sector training companies, Further Education Colleges, Universities, Qualification Development and Awarding Organisations. In June 2013, we were presented with our BS 11000 Certificate of Registration for Collaborative Business Relationships. NSAR is the epitome of collaboration; it has been developed by the industry for the industry to fulfil the strategic role of developing and implementing the skills strategy, which supports the industry’s vision to create an engineering workforce with the necessary skills to support the maintenance, development and expansion of a first-class, cost effective 21st Century railway.

NSAR doesn’t deliver training — we work with employers to understand their skills needs, with training providers to ensure they are delivering what the industry needs and with other stakeholders, such as sector skills bodies and Government, to make sure that the industry has the right qualifications to support its vision.

Our pan-industry Board is made up of a number of senior railway engineering employer and stakeholder representatives of Directors. The Board is chaired by Chris Fenton.


Our key activities include:

  • Training Accreditation - Since January 2012 NSAR has operated the concession to provide assurance of training quality for all Network Rail Sentinal-related training and assessment programmes. In January 2013 the accreditation framework widened to include technical training in addition to the safety related training. Audits have been replaced by Ofsted-style inspections. The results are published allowing employers to make informed procurement decisions and provide the industry with an understanding of the capability for workforce development. NSAR developed and introduced a web-based management system for inspections of training providers.


  • NTAR - Opening in autumn 2015 and  supported by the Department for Business Innovation & Skills  (BIS) & the Department for Transport  (DfT), this new multimillion pound state of the art National Training Academy for Rail (NTAR) based in Northampton, will specialise in vital traction and rolling stock training to help bridge the skills gap in the UK rail industry. It will act as a central hub for accredited ‘spokes’ nationwide maximising the reach of industry-leading training. For more information, please visit www.ntar.co.uk
  • Skills Forecasting - NSAR developed a comprehensive skills forecasting model in 2012 which has since been expanded to provide more in-depth analyses of specific areas (track, signalling/telecoms, electrification/plant, traction/rolling stock) based on skill levels aligned with the National Qualifications Framework. NSAR undertakes skills forecasting projects to determine national or individual sector requirements or company specific opportunities. The results formulate the basis of action plans. In January 2013 NSAR published a report “Forecasting the Skills Challenge” which identified the need to create 10,000 new technicians and engineers over the next 5 years.
  • SkillsID LogoSkillsID - NSAR has developed SkillsID an online record of an individual’s skills, competencies and qualifications that is accessible by both the employer (sponsor) and the individual and with verified records updated by the employer (sponsor) and NSAR accredited training & assessment providers. It provides employers with the basis for a comprehensive Competency Management System that provides consistency where appropriate yet flexibility to be tailored to individual company’s needs, enabling them to comply with national requirements; offering potential for administration savings and transparency of relevant supply chain competencies and an ability to link to industry minimum competency standards. For more information, please visit www.nsar.co.uk/SkillsID
  • Competency Based Consultancy - NSAR works with companies to assist them identifying their strategic workforce challenges and industry need positioning based on both secured contracts and future business plans. Talk to us to find out how we can help you.


The NSAR team is based in Carteret Street, Central London

NSAR is part of a national network of National Skills Academies (NSA's). Funding to enable establishment of NSAR was confirmed as part of the Government’s new skills strategy in November, 2010, and the Academy was launched on 1 December 2010 at the House of Commons with more than 150 industry representatives present.  In January 2011 NSAR was incorporated as a ‘not for profit’ Company Limited by Guarantee, wholly-owned by its Members.