Yesterdag, 20th October, the National Training Academy for Rail (NTAR) was officially opened by Transport Minister Claire Perry. The state-of-the-art training facility is now ready for the first intake of students.
The academy was established in response to a forecast skills shortage of around 8,000 people over the next ten years, caused by factors such as the technological advancement of rolling stock, an ageing workforce, and significant investment and growth in the industry.
An innovative agreement between the National Skills Academy for Rail Engineering (NSARE) and the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) with support from the Department for Transport (DfT) has provided half the funds required to build NTAR, with Siemens contributing the other 50 per cent. The 50/50 funding agreement will release 50% of the academy’s training capacity to the wider UK industry, with the remainder used by Siemens’s own rail sector employees.
NTAR will offer 20,000 man days of training per year and will act as a national ‘hub’ with regional ‘spokes’ located at other train care facilities around the country. The bespoke facility, which is located in Northampton, close to the Siemens train care depot at Kings Heath, will combine the use of unique hands-on equipment and workshop facilities in addition to classroom-based teaching, using cutting-edge technology.
Members of the Rail Engineering Apprenticeship Group are also set to make full use of the academy and the first intake of students will include those from train operating company South West Trains.
Rail Minister Claire Perry, said, “We are working closely with the transport industry to bring a sustained and lasting legacy of skills and opportunity for people across the UK. The opening of the National Training Academy for Rail is a major milestone towards delivering a network of transport infrastructure skills colleges and training academies, promised as part of our transport skills strategy.
“The government is investing billions of pounds in rail and road projects, which will create thousands of exciting new job opportunities. More and more of these jobs are cutting-edge, highly technical and require Britain’s best minds. This new facility – and more like it – are just what the country needs to ensure we develop a workforce with the advanced skills required to build a transport network fit for the future.”
Skills Minister Nick Boles, commented: “This Academy will help provide the skilled workforce industry needs as we embark upon one of the UK’s biggest ever investments in new rail infrastructure.
“Industry-led training will ensure that learners are getting the skills employers want, while many rail firms have also designed new apprenticeship standards for roles like Rail Engineering Technician to deliver the skills needed for UK rail to expand here and internationally.”
Simon Rennie, General Manager at NTAR, said, ”Our ambition is to focus on transforming training in traction and rolling stock to genuinely contribute to tackling the Skills Gap in a way which both raises and creates standards, provides a fantastic learning environment, delivers innovation and, when put together, helps transform the perception of our industry to one where the breadth of technology and career opportunities are understood and developed”
Neil Robertson, Chief Executive Officer of NSARE, said, ”The UK rail industry is at an exciting juncture, with many projects creating thousands of jobs across the country. The skills shortage in the industry remains a challenge, with far too few young people dreaming of an engineering career, and fewer yet looking to specialise in rail. The well documented ageing workforce and significant technological advancements in our industry prove that there is a clear need for NTAR.”
Steve Scrimshaw, Managing Director of Siemens Rail Systems UK, said, ”Together with NSARE, BIS and the DfT, Siemens has invested in creating the National Training Academy for Rail (NTAR) to make sure the UK rail industry has the skills and expertise necessary to meet the future demands of this exciting and dynamic industry. I am looking forward to welcoming not only our staff and apprentices but also the wider industry being trained at NTAR.”
About the National Training Academy for Rail
“All change” is a phrase that every rail passenger is used to hearing. But it’s now a phrase that has special resonance throughout the UK rail industry, as the move toward the ‘Digital Railway’ of the future gathers pace – just at the time when many of the industry’s workforce are approaching retirement age.
Both government and industry alike recognise that this combination of technological and demographic pressure needs a very clear strategy. Only by addressing training and recruitment needs now can we ensure that the UK can draw upon a highly-skilled talent pool in rail engineering – and create a truly world-leading 21st century rail network.
With immediate needs on the timetable too, such as expansion of the workforce to maintain new fleets, the response to the challenge has been a unique and ambitious public/private partnership between government agencies and private enterprise: the National Training Academy for Rail (NTAR).
NTAR, with its multi-million pound state-of-the-art facility based in Northampton, will act both as a UK flagship and an international Centre of Excellence for skills development and collaborative working in traction and rolling stock: addressing a skills gap that would otherwise become a barrier to both maintaining and growing the workforce.
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