“Sometimes there is no right answer. And that’s fine.
Neil Franklin, Head of Skills Intelligence at the National Skills Academy for Rail (NSAR), needed to take a double-decade leap into the unknown. I find out how it went.
The objective: predict an entire industry’s skill needs to meet changing technology
The unknown: “Do it for the next 20 years.”
What’s been your biggest challenge when dealing with the unknown?
“Eighteen months ago I was asked to forecast all the future skills needs for the rail industry… for the next 20 years.
“The scale of this challenge was very different. Previous models and studies have focused on one part of the industry only — this was the entire industry, plus roads, and for some time into the future.”
That’s a major piece of prediction.
“Yes, it was a big job. Historically it had been done in piecemeal fashion via spreadsheets and complex macros, but also by gut instinct and with different assumptions. Rail has a traditional, historical way of working, one not fit for today’s modern environment.
“In truth, there was no accurate industry picture for the number of people required to deliver future investment and the skills they would need to meet emerging technology.”