October Insights from NSAR Chief Executive
October is Black History Month. The rail industry has been making commendable efforts and progress to diversify and better reflect the communities it serves – but we still have work to do.
Findings from the NSAR Rail Workforce Survey 2023 show that – of the people surveyed who disclosed their ethnicity, which was about a third – Black, Black British, Caribbean or African people make up 3.9% of the UK rail workforce, compared to a national average of 4.2%. Black rail employees are typically in lower skill-level or lower-paid roles, compared to people from other ethnic backgrounds.
It is important that we attract diverse people into higher-level roles by creating a working environment where people are supported to stay and grow. Offering training opportunities and facilitating mentoring and coaching can make a big difference to employee retention. NSAR recently published an article about the difference coaching made for Lorraine Mhonyera, a young, black woman in a leadership position at Network Rail.
A major topic of discussion this month has been the Government’s announcement on HS2. I have been reflecting on the achievements to date and the potential of HS2. The HS2 team have shown consistency and dedication to creating new jobs, many of which have gone to people from disadvantaged backgrounds. The social value predictions NSAR made for HS2 have been proven correct.
Infrastructure projects provide the best return on government investment when it comes to social value. What was great about Phase 2 of HS2 was that it was going to create new jobs in the North, where they are needed. I hope that, as indicated by the Government, other rail projects in the North are prioritised for repurposed HS2 funding – such as the Transpennine Route Upgrade and Northern Powerhouse Rail.
NSAR remains committed to supporting the rail industry to build its workforce and increase social value. Earlier this month we announced we are joining the register of flexi-job apprenticeship agencies. This will de-risk apprenticeship provision for organisations, and help NSAR to help the industry reach its goal of doubling current levels of apprenticeships. Read more about it here.