‘Institutes of Technology’ to boost skills training

The government has announced the locations of 12 “Institutes of Technology” in England, intended to provide high-quality skills training.  The aim is to offer young people a vocational alternative to universities. Employers will support the institutes, most of which will be based around existing colleges and universities.

Prime Minister Theresa May said “they would end outdated perceptions that were biased against vocational skills.”

The institutes will be the “pinnacle of technical training”, said Education Secretary Damian Hinds.

The introduction of a network of Institutes of Technology aims to create a high-quality route to gain skills and technical qualifications, comparable to going to university. They will begin opening from the autumn, supported by funding of £170m. The institutes, based in further education colleges and universities, will each have an industry specialism, and use the expertise of relevant employers.

The leads to set up the Institutes of Technology are:

  • Barking and Dagenham College, east London
  • Dudley College of Technology, west Midlands
  • Harrow College and Uxbridge College, west London
  • Milton Keynes College, Buckinghamshire
  • New College Durham, north-east England
  • Queen Mary University of London, east London
  • Solihull College and University Centre, west Midlands
  • Swindon College, Wiltshire
  • University of Exeter, Devon
  • University of Lincoln
  • Weston College of Further and Higher Education, Somerset
  • York College, York

How does NSAR membership benefit my organisation?

By joining NSAR you and your organisation can become part of an active and respected community of like-minded people, sharing specialist knowledge and expertise in all aspects of rail focused on delivery and maintenance of a world-class rail service. 

We provide our members with:

  • Bespoke consultancy tailored to you organisations needs (Large organisations only)
  • Access to frequent seminars and workshops focusing on topical subjects
  • The ability to lobby government on policy & legislation surrounding the rail industry
  • Access to a range of network of organisations and key industry figures all sharing best practice and views on the industry risks and opportunities
  • Immediate access to information on the latest industry analysis, trends and development 

To see our full Membership Directory click here.

To find out more about NSAR Membership click here.

New information on industry placements for T Levels work and how employers can get involved

DfE have now published guidance on T-Level industry placements including:

  • A minimum placement of 45 days equating to 20% of the course (80% taught in school or colleges)
  • A list of employer responsibilities such as:
    • to provide a safe working environment and a line manager
    • to undergo DBS checks where students are 16 and 17
    • the need to provide formal feedback on the student’s progress against the agreed learning objectives

Employers need to get involved as this is one of the main challenges in getting T-Levels off the ground.

For more information click here.

Rail Supply Group Council Update

Control Period 6 (CP6) from 2019 to 2024 started from 1st April. The next 5 years will see £48bn invested by Network Rail in operating, maintaining, renewing and enhancing our railway infrastructure. This is in addition to investment from the train and freight operators and rolling stock companies that will also improve and modernise our railways. Network Rail has published its Delivery Plans for CP6. Find out more here.


  • On  the 4th April 2019, the Transport Minister, Nusrat Ghani MP, announced £300m funding over the next 5 years, to open up rail journeys for disabled people. Upgrades, including amongst other things footbridges and lifts, will make it easier for disabled people to travel on the UK’s rail network. Several other stations will also see smaller scale improvements. You can find out more about this here.


  • Rail Minister, Andrew Jones MP, has been confirmed as a keynote speaker for Railtex taking place from 14th to 16th May 2019 at the NEC Birmingham. To find out more click here.

Chinese educational representatives visit NSAR

Today NSAR was visited by a group from Zhengzhou Railway Vocational & Technical College and University of Worcester International College who are currently working in partnership.

NSAR has partnered with China UKSCE (UK Skills Centres of Excellence) as a result our increasingly strong international reputation. Inclusive of our recent MOU signing with Jiaxing Nanyang Polytechnic Institute, we have also signed MOU’s with 15 other institutions in the last 12 months.

For more information about NSAR’s international endeavours, click here.

Virgin honours Coventry with Lady Godiva train

Last week Virgin Trains added a new train to its fleet which also has a very special connection to the city of Coventry. The new train has been named Lady Godiva after the English noblewoman who, according to a legend rode naked through the streets of Coventry to gain a remission of the oppressive taxation that her husband imposed on his tenants in the 13th Century.

In addition, Lady Godiva will also bear the city’s new flag.  Amanda Hines, General Manager for Virgin Trains in the West Midlands said: “We’re delighted to be flying the flag for Coventry. Lady Godiva will clock up over 300,000 miles in the next 12 months and be seen the length and breadth of the West Coast route from Liverpool to London, Birmingham to Manchester, Edinburgh and Glasgow, and of course Coventry. The train won’t just be passing through Coventry, but will travel hundreds of miles from Scotland, to Liverpool, to Manchester and to London to name a few.

NSAR CEO Neil Robertson was site to witness the event.

Join the Freight & Logistics Apprenticeship Quality Board

NSAR is supporting employers from the freight and logistics sectors to lead on the external quality assurance of apprenticeships. The newly created Freight & Logistics Apprenticeship Quality Board will be critical to the success of the EQA service and will oversee and guides the quality assurance work we do.

We are looking for employers with a real interest in high-quality apprenticeship training and assessment to become members of the Freight & Logistics Apprenticeship Quality Board. For more information click here.

Host a ‘Live Stream’ event and support DWP ‘Rail Diversity’ campaign

Alongside our invitation to employers to provide apprentices to create videos for Skills Live, we are also appealing for you to support us in a “Rail Diversity’ campaign which we will be running with DWP in July. The aim of the campaign is to connect with more young people about careers and encourage diversity within the rail industry.

Central to this campaign will be a series of ‘live streaming’ events, enabling employers to connect with and inspire employees of the future. Live streaming is convenient, easy and enables greater interaction with a larger audience.

To see how you can get involved or for more information please contact: sharman.cunningham@nsar.co.uk 

NSAR at Military is Good for Rail Open & Recruitment Day

NSAR attended the Military is Good for Rail: Open and Recruitment Day yesterday which saw a range of people who have recently left, or planning to leave the UK’s armed forces,  explore new career opportunities.

Organised by the Rail Forum Midlands,  the event consisted of short presentations by rail  professionals describing their transitions from military to rail, followed by a exhibition and networking session.

Exhibitors on site included NTAR, Siemens, Bridgeway, Bombardier, Balfour Beatty, Network Rail, Ford & Stanley Group and East Midlands.



Hows can businesses prepare for a no deal exit from the EU?

Preparing for ‘No Deal’ is now an operational priority for the Government. Businesses should make sure they prepare and take action on their own ‘No Deal’ plans.  The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy have prepared the following document containing a Parliamentary Update and information on:

  • Data Protection Questions
  • EU Settlement Scheme
  • Q&A on no deal
  • Future Forums

To download the document click here