A Wolverhampton-based training provider is ramping up activities to help the rail sector meet an anticipated 120,000 staff shortfall.
National Infrastructure Solutions (NIS), launched by former youth international footballer and Royal Marine Commando Davie Carns, in 2018, is looking to support hundreds of local workers to retrain and upskill to take advantage of a ‘once in generation’ opportunity for the West Midlands.
The company, which is already working with huge industry employers such as Rhomberg Sersa and Amey Rail on industry-specific courses, is also the lead partner at the City of Wolverhampton College’s (CoWC) new rail training centre at its Wellington Road Campus in Bilston.
The facility is equipped with installation and maintenance equipment to support courses on conventional, high speed and light rail lines.
It is also the first in the UK to offer training on slab track systems that are used in the construction of high-speed rail lines, such as HS2, directly adjacent to a conventional rail track for training purposes.
This demonstrates NIS and CoWC’s commitment to creating both opportunity and choice for learners as they take their first steps into the rail industry.
Candice, one of the trainees being supported by the National Infrastructure Solutions. Image courtesy of National Infrastructure Solutions
“Our region has a major employment opportunity with billions of pounds going into rail infrastructure projects planned for or passing through our area,” explained Davie, who initially started work in the sector as a trackman, often working weekends and nights while undertaking resettlement from the military.
“Brexit is restricting the flow of European workers, meaning we are in a desperate rush to train people so they can enter employment in the sector and, equally importantly, upskill those already in the industry into more advanced roles to create sustainable careers for all.”
He continued: “What we have been doing over the last two years is listening to employers to develop a series of on-site and virtual courses that will equip individuals with core practical rail skills and qualifications covering leadership and management, health and safety and behavioural qualifications.
“Our partnership with the City of Wolverhampton College is also important and the facilities we have there are unrivalled in the UK. This gives us the opportunity to train people in a safe environment on the type of equipment and technology they’ll be working on once they are trackside.”
Demand for NIS’ services has increased by 300% over the last twelve months and the firm has responded by trebling its full-time workforce, sourcing local talent that is representative of the city it calls home.
It has so far trained 300 individuals so far, with 70% of participants going on to find sustained employment.
Courses are available for both newcomers to the sector who want to gain the skills employers are looking for, and those already working in the rail industry who want to upskill and develop their knowledge further.
NIS will also run free rail training courses for people who are registered as unemployed through a sector-based work academy programme (SWAP). The six-week scheme will offer pre-employment training, on-site work experience and a guaranteed job interview with an industry employer looking to recruit new staff.
“With my background, it’s no surprise that one of our big passions is supporting former members of the Armed Forces to retrain for a career in rail and this is something we’re looking to develop with the launch of our ‘Back on Track’ programme shortly,” added Davie.
“Our senior management team has agreed to donate 2.5% of our profits to local charities and we want to continue working with fantastic organisations like Reach and Unite to ensure that everyone who wants a career in rail has the opportunity to gain the skills they need to be given a chance in the sector.”