Attracting new talent into the rail industry – How a training and development roadmap is important to keeping new entrants engaged

June 18, 2021

The UK Rail industry is going to need a significant amount of people to help deliver the ever-increasing amount of projects over the coming months and years ahead. To help fill the skills gap, one way to attract new talent into the sector is through a defined training and development roadmap that is appropriately paced with milestones. Take Signalling installation for example, this segment will appeal to personnel that may either be leaving or have left the ex-forces from areas such as REME or Royal Signals. Many of these candidates will have strong technical skillsets that can be developed further and have great behavioural characteristics such as positive attitudes, leadership skills, adaptability, calm in a crisis, problem-solving abilities and a hard-working ethic.

Once candidates have been selected through an extensive interview process (which could include psychometric testing) as this should blend some technical skills, and a theoretical understanding (though an NVQ level 3 or similar level qualifications in an electrical/mechanical subject) and assessment of behavioural characteristics then these candidates are ready to enter the sector. A Signalling programme for an entry-level candidate should include basic PTS training, BS1, BS2 and Signalling Installation courses along with an induction programme. Once these are successfully completed then the personnel on the Signalling installation programme can be “buddied” and mentored by a more experienced person such as an IRSE Assistant Installer or an IRSE Installer who can help them learn “on the job”. Once enough experience is gained, say around the 6-month mark then enough evidence may have been collected for an IRSE assessment – workplace & competency assessment.

Once completed, and IRSE licenced gained the candidate gains value for themselves and for the organisation they are working for. This could be IRSE Assistant Installer level, and the candidate can then take some further routes to develop such as in Points fitting or moving forward to become an IRSE installer over the next 12 months. At the end of a 2-year programme a new entrant could become a points fitter or an IRSE installer and adding significant value to the sector. Having the opportunity at the end of the 2-year period to be taken on permanently is important in retaining the new talent that are being trained as they can see a future career and job security. Boston Rail are part of an organisation that has over a decade in giving new talent opportunities in industry and providing a training and development roadmap for them successfully with customers such as DHL and Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy.

This type of approach can work across Signalling, Telecoms, OLE and Rolling stock, and each area have requirements for more talent. This also gives candidates an option to best use their skill sets from their previous career. Some new entrants could also come from associated high safety-critical sectors such as Aviation, Wind Energy, Marine and Automotive.

If you are interested in understanding further about the entry-level training and development programmes please get in touch with Tom Anderton at Boston Rail – tomanderton@bostonrail.co.uk

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