August Insights from NSAR Chief Executive

In September, NSAR will be releasing a report detailing the findings from its UK Rail Workforce Survey, with recommendations to address the skills situation in rail.

The survey findings show us that the same areas of skills shortages remain. The top three roles with the largest forecast increase in demand are technicians, software engineers and project managers. High demand and a shortage of available skills are, as we well know, driving wage inflation and damaging the competitiveness of the industry.

Rail has been working hard over the last few years to increase apprenticeship numbers, train new workers and upskill existing employees. This isn’t news. Even with this effort, demand and shortages persist as industry workers retire – and in increasing numbers. The rail training industry is affected by the same issues, compounding the challenge.

We need to focus on attracting talent to the most in-demand roles and building a pipeline of great trainers to teach these skills. This is what NSAR is targeting with Skills Match – making that connection between new talent and experienced trainers in disciplines we know are needed now and in the future.

NSAR is also committed to helping build a training supply landscape that can deliver the skills the industry needs. We have launched a new mentoring scheme to increase capacity. I also want to acknowledge the efforts of Steve Cocliff from VolkerRail who has been actively engaged in a number of initiatives to improve and increase the level of training within the rail industry.

Network Rail has recently made some changes in their management of training, with the introduction of master vendor contracts. This is a big development and will require some effort from Morson and Intertrain to step up to the role. I applaud the plans Morson is making to improve the quality of training and prepare for the future. It shows they understand the trainer challenge and are taking steps to address it.

Speaking of training, it is great to hear about some potential good uses for the NCATI sites. I am also looking forward to seeing what GCRE can do to help the industry with its training challenges.

Neil Robertson
NSAR Chief Executive

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