February insights from the NSAR Chief Executive

I introduced Edward Hughes, NSAR’s new Head of Policy Engagement, in my December update. Ed has hit the ground running and developed an excellent engagement plan so NSAR can give effect to direction from our Board to increase engagement with decision-makers – like the major parties, government departments and other interested groups.

The aim is to play our part in educating decision-makers on the value of the railway – in particular, the skills and productivity benefits it offers. Decision makers often underestimate the true value of railway but it is in the top three sectors for the highest return on investment in terms of social value gains. Rail also offers plenty of apprenticeships and opportunities to learn in-demand and green skills that will contribute to a sustainable future.

It is for these reasons and more that we remain confident that extending HS2 to Manchester is an attractive, and indeed necessary, project. As well as providing vital transport links to a part of the country with ageing infrastructure, HS2 is already making a huge difference to local communities through employment, apprenticeships and teaching in-demand skills.

This week is National Apprenticeship Week. It is fantastic to see so many sectors and organisations celebrating apprenticeships and the opportunities they represent. We know that businesses are keen to take on apprentices but have concerns – like having enough work in the pipeline to keep apprentices for the length of the apprenticeship, or a sufficient range of work for apprentices to meet all their training needs.

Now, through our Apprenticeship Agency service, NSAR can employ apprentices on businesses’ behalf and support them throughout their programme. We can place the apprentice elsewhere if there is any reason the host can’t continue with the apprenticeship.

NSAR is committed to helping the industry, especially SMEs in the supply chain, to take on more apprentices. Apprenticeships are vital to the industry, as well as setting up apprentices with skills for life – the theme of this year’s National Apprenticeship Week. I encourage you to speak to NSAR about how our Apprenticeship Agency can support your business or supply chain.

Neil Robertson

NSAR Chief Executive

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