Jason Bradbury is our other keynote speaker at the Skills Symposium

Jason Bradbury

We are excited to announce that Jason Bradbury, the quirky and inquisitive former host of The Gadget Show, is joining us for the Skills Symposium ‘The Future’s Here Now’ on Friday 26 November. This is in addition to Liz Bonnin, announced last week. It is set to be a remarkable event with key insights shared from outside the rail sector on the latest technological advances and reflection on how rail stands up in relation to other industries moving in these digital times. Jason will be sharing his perspective and vision and will be answering your questions too. He will be following the session where Liz Bonnin gives her perspective from an environmental standpoint.

Jason Bradbury has a passion for technology and science and has enjoyed a TV career spanning over twenty years where he has hosted shows on most major UK channels but of course, most memorably for Channel 5’s The Gadget Show which he fronted for 12 years. This saw Jason explore a vast array of projects, research, and challenges in the science and technology field. From building a hovercraft to developing the world’s first phone glove, Jason’s enthusiasm is infectious and innovation unparalleled. In addition to his ventures each episode, Jason achieved several Guinness World Records whilst presenting, including ‘Fastest Speed in a Water Jet-Powered Car’ and the ‘Longest Ramp Jump in a Remote-Controlled’ car.

The full agenda for the ‘The Future’s Here Now’ (Friday 26 November 11.30 – 1.30pm) will be published soon. To register your place at the Skills Symposium, an online event via Zoom, please click here.

‘The Future’s Here Now’ Event programme

Child on train

As part of NSAR’s mission to support the development of its members and the wider rail industry, we are excited to announce that we will be hosting a series of events entitled ‘The Future’s Here Now’ showcasing recent important developments in digital, skills and productivity.  These will start in December 2021 and run monthly throughout 2022. Attendees will get the opportunity to hear updates and outcomes on some ground breaking projects, such as those within the TIES Living Lab collaboration, as well as reflect on some of the burning issues facing rail and share ideas and reflections on how are we are tackling them.

The events will form a variety of formats – virtual, live and hybrid, and we will run them on the first Wednesday of each month. Calendar invites will be sent out so that you can block this time and ensure you do not miss out.

The first of these events will be a Lunch and Learn, and will focus on the East Coast Digital Programme (ECDP). Our CEO, Neil Robertson will be joined by Toufic Machnouk from Network Rail and other key contributors to this project which is turning over traditional signalling infrastructure to a new digital-led solution. To make this happen, the greatest challenge has been in building a cross-industry partnership approach, and the ECDP has been successful so far in its trailblazing activity bringing together more than 50 organisations. It is truly integrating industry like never before which will pave the way for future programmes, as well as exemplifying the collaboration that will deliver the Great British Railways collaboration. Watch this short video for an overview.

Join us on Wednesday 8 December 2021 at 12.30-2.00pm for this ‘Lunch and Learn’ session. This will be an online event (via zoom), so bring your own lunch to your screen and be ready to learn more about this important breakthrough in industry collaboration.

To register for your free place, click through to the Eventbrite page

Calling all NSAR members! It’s time for the AGM


Calling all NSAR members!

Your Annual General Meeting (AGM) will take place on Friday 26 November at 9.00am. This is the same day as the Skills Symposium ‘The Future’s Here Now’. The running order for the morning will be

NSAR AGM (members only) 9.00 – 10.00am chaired by NSAR Chair, Dyan Crowther
NSAR Skills Symposium (for all) 11.30 – 1.30 pm – hosted by NSAR CEO, Neil Robertson, who will be joined by Liz Bonnin, Jason Bradbury and some rail sector speakers too.

You will need to register on zoom, separately for the two events, so take a few minutes to click on the links to the zoom meetings. You will be sent a copy of the Annual Report in advance of the meeting, so it is your opportunity to contribute to and hear from your member association, NSAR.

Register for NSAR AGM if you work for a NSAR member organisation

Register for NSAR Skills Symposium – open to everyone with an interest in the topic ‘The Future’s Here Now

Kickstart Scheme extended!

Kickstart scheme

The Government has announced an extension to the Kickstart Scheme, allowing businesses to provide government-funded job placement opportunities to young people. The extension gives employers until 17th December 2021 to submit the Kickstart Grant application, and recruitment activities are extended to 31st March 2022.

NSAR has been supporting Kickstart since its inception, and we have successfully placed a large number of young people in a diverse range of roles. We are extending our support further to ensure all interested employers have the opportunity to offer quality, fully supported placements to more young people.

The Covid-19 pandemic has impacted all of us, and none more so than our young people. Young people aged 16-24 have been left unemployed in much higher numbers than adults, and the lockdown has had a big impact on their mental health and wellbeing. Many young people are feeling frustrated and disillusioned, and worried about what the future holds for their career potential.

We all have a role to play.

Opportunities only exist if we create them. The Kickstart scheme has enabled employers of all sizes to create quality work experience placements, covering a huge range of roles from Accounts to Customer Service to Track Maintenance through to 3D Modellers for VR. Young people are learning new skills, increasing their confidence, and many have secured full time employment or an Apprenticeship placement during or after their 6 months placement.

NSAR can help you with all your Kickstart activities from recruitment to providing excellent mentoring support, training for you and your team, employability training and much more. Whether you are keen to offer one placement or many, NSAR will support you every step of the way.
If you are already involved in Kickstart but need some extra support, or if you have not yet secured your Kickstart grant, get in touch with us and see how we can best help you. Tracey is waiting to hear from you.

The NSAR Kickstart Team
E: tracey.wright@nsar.co.uk
T: 07809 701224

Liz Bonnin, Science, natural history and environmental broadcaster is our Keynote Speaker

We are delighted to announce that Liz Bonnin will be joining us at NSAR’s Skills Symposium ‘The Future’s Here Now’ on Friday 26 November and will be discussing with Neil Robertson the environmental issues as she sees them, and considering how they relate to the rail industry. There is sure to be interesting discussion and reflection on how rail stands up in relation to other industries, and how much further we still need to go.

Liz Bonnin started her career as a TV presenter working on light entertainment programmes before returning to her first love, Science. Her TV career has also drawn heavily on her academic expertise in science. Amongst the many programmes she has been involved in, Liz presented ‘Big Animal Surgery’ and ‘Meat: A Threat to Our Planet?’, as well as the ground-breaking documentary ‘Drowning in Plastic’ and ‘Blue Planet Live’, both on BBC One.

In recent years Liz has been on our screens with the series Galapagos, Wild Alaska Live and the hugely successful Big Blue Live series. The list goes on of her TV credits mainly on the subject of wildlife and animal behaviour, as well are more science-based series such as Horizon, Stargazing Live, Bang Goes the Theory. She will also be recognised as a present on the popular Countrywise series.

Liz recently was awarded an Honorary Fellowship of the British Science Association. She has a podcast series called ‘What Planet Are We On’ which has a particularly topical episode entitled ‘COP26: Your Climate Questions Answered which is well worth listening to ahead of her appearance at our Skills Symposium.

To register for a place at the Skills Symposium, an online event via Zoom, please click here.

Photo credit: Andrew Crowley

Report: Creating jobs by building Britain’s net zero railway

Catalysting a green recovery

A report called Catalysing a green recovery: Creating jobs by building Britain’s net zero railway has been published this month and is available to read here. It uses analysis conducted by NSAR along with Oxera economists and rolling stock consultants Ipex. It concludes that building Britain’s net zero railway could support almost 6,000 long term jobs in the sector nationally between 2024 and 2050 while cutting 33 million tonnes of CO2 emissions over that period.

The document explains that electrifying the remaining parts of the network and developing hydrogen and battery technologies as alternatives would not only support more jobs in the rail supply chain but help drive further investment and job creation in these emerging markets.

As the single largest consumer of electricity in the country, the rail network will require large amounts of renewable power, as well as hydrogen and battery storage. A commitment by government to fund the decarbonisation of the rail network would help drive investment and create more jobs in existing renewables like wind and solar farms.

The report comes at a time when the rail industry, through its ‘We Mean Green’ campaign, is encouraging people and businesses to choose greener trains over congested roads in the fight against climate change.

Registrations for the 2021 Skills Symposium are now Open

NSAR Skills Symposium 2021

We are very excited to announce that registrations for NSAR’s Annual Skills Symposium ‘The Future’s Here Now’ are now open. It promises to be an insightful event with a line-up of great speakers from inside and outside the rail sector, sharing their perspectives and work on projects preparing for the future in terms of both the environment and digitalisation.

It is on Friday 26 November 11.30am – 1.30pm and is a virtual event, using the Zoom platform, so is very easy to attend.

Whether you have attended a past event, or this will be your first NSAR event, you are encouraged to register early to secure your place. This is open to anyone with an interest in our work, whether working in rail or elsewhere.
The feedback we received from last year’s Skills Symposium, where Brian Cox presented, included comments such as,

“Thank you Neil and everyone else at NSAR, it’s been great today. Inspiring, energising and I can’t wait to take this momentum forward”
“Exciting stuff Thank you NSAR”
“Thank You NSAR – well done”
“Great meeting and discussions!”

We cannot yet reveal the big names we have lined up and the full programme, but we are sure you will not be disappointed. Watch this space for the announcement coming soon.

Register for NSAR Skills Symposium ‘The Future’s Here Now’

NSAR is launching its own Apprentice of the Year competition


NSAR is launching a national Apprentice of the Year award, for roles in the rail sector. The hunt is on for the best young talent for our first NSAR Apprentice of the year competition. These awards will celebrate the achievements of extraordinary rail apprentices and will reward and recognise innovation, learning, and leadership in the next generation of workers.
Nominations can be submitted by train operating companies and freight operating companies or by the training providers delivering the apprenticeships (please refer to NSAR criteria (link) to select their best candidates). There are three categories for 2022:
Level 3 Train Driver Apprentices
• Level 2 Passenger Transport on Board and Station Team Member Apprentices
• Level 4 Passenger Transport Operations Manager
Apprentices selected by companies or training providers will be put forward to an NSAR panel who will choose the final winners. Winners in both categories will be announced during National Apprenticeship Week (7th-13th February 2022).
Applications are now open. Please check the criteria before you nominate, and follow the link to complete a form.
Applications will close on 20 December 2021. If you have any questions or require any more information please contact Mike Falconer – Skills Manager.

HS2 Minister visits Birmingham to open new INFRA Skills training centre

On Monday 27th September, Andrew Stephenson, Minister of State at the DfT and the HS2 Minister, officially opened the new purpose-built INFRA Skills Training Centre in Aston, Birmingham.

The new Centre focuses primarily on rail and construction training and will assist infrastructure companies in developing and training their workforce to meet the demand for £55 billion in rail contracts by 2022. The West Midlands area is currently responsible for 49,000 railway-related jobs – the joint second-highest concentration of all UK regions outside of London.

Adjacent to the centre is a purpose-built Rail Training area with more than 80 metres of railway track, including working points, signals, RRAPs and a level crossing. An Overhead Line Span will be added in the coming weeks, making it one of the best training facilities in the country. INFRA Skills trainers work with students to ensure they gain hands-on, practical experience in learning the skills required to build and maintain rail lines.

During his visit, he also stopped by the HS2 Induction Centre, run by parent company Auctus Management Group, which provides inductions for all Balfour Beatty Vinci employees and subcontractors working on the Midlands section from Long Itchington to Stafford.

The Minister also saw on-track demonstrations from INFRA Skills sister company, RSS Infrastructure. They showcased their Welding, Track Warning Services, Safety-Critical Resourcing, and Construction and Civils capability at the newly developed Training Induction Area.

‘I’d like to pay tribute to the work of INFRA Skills in delivering the new skilled workforce that we need for the Rail sector. There is going to be a huge opportunity in the Rail industry in the years to come.’
Andrew Stephenson MP
Minister of State, Department of Transport

INFRA Skills focuses on four main areas to support the infrastructure sector: safety-critical training and assessments, apprenticeships, funded learning, and occupational health services. It provides rail training programmes from beginner to advanced levels to the highest standards, having recently retained their prestigious NSAR Gold award.

INFRA Skills is one of only a few organisations in the UK to have received the NSAR GOLD Standard for rail course delivery. This award honours high-quality professional training programmes that have enabled learners to demonstrate staff competency, qualification, and safety in accordance with national standards.

INFRA Skills has a long history of reducing the skills shortage and increasing social mobility through its Local Enterprise Partnerships, which include collaboration with colleges, prisons, charities, ex-military and government departments to assist those with disabilities or individuals struggling to find work by removing the barriers they face.


Workforce planning from NSAR informs HS2 report

HS2 Skills Report

NSAR’s strategic workforce planning division were commissioned along with CITB, Experian and WLC to generate a workforce demand profile (using our SIM tool) for an HS2 ‘Building Skills to Deliver HS2’ project in July 2020 as we have worked with them on similar research over the past 8 years.

We created a workforce forecast, by job role, by location, by year for the HS2 project as a whole. This was followed by an assessment of where the industry shortages might be and what actions might be taken to alleviate or remedy those shortages.

In the report published in August 2021, the analysis from NSAR is used on pages 8-9 where labour demand predictions are made for the next twenty years, further broken down by region of England. Further data supplied by NSAR makes a fascinating read on pages 13-14 where shortages in specific roles are identified. Looking further at the supply coming through from training and education providers, be that apprenticeships, vocational education or degree courses, the analysis suggests that there is coverage in further education colleges and universities to satisfy the HS2 demand within the supply chain, as long as investment in skills and apprenticeships is made now in order to have the workforce exist when required.

NSAR is highly regarded as the ‘go to’ for strategic workforce planning within in the rail sector and can offer bespoke reporting to your organisation. Contact us for further information.