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Rail academy gathering pace

Plans to establish the National Skills Academy for Rail Engineering (NSARE) were ramping up this week after it was boosted by a £3M government cash injection last month.

The academy’s board, which includes Crossrail chairman Terry Morgan, is currently thrashing out a business plan to present to the government this summer.

The rail academy is to share space with Crossrail’s tunnelling academy, despite the two fulfilling different purposes.
The tunnelling academy will specifically train engineers to plug the shortfall of skills in that area, while NSARE will act more as an accrediting body.

NSARE programme director Gil Howarth is confident that the two academies can operate effectively alongside each other. “There are regular meetings between the two to ensure compatability,” he said.

While NSARE will not offer training itself, it will promote and standardise the work of rail training providers, and plans to introduce skills passports for workers.

Skills shortage

Improving the image of railway engineering among school leavers and graduates is another priority. There is a projected skills shortage of more than 30,000 workers in the industry over the next few years.

A declining skills base and a poor industry image among graduates and school leavers has led to fears that the industry will be unprepared and underskilled to meet demand for projects such as Crossrail, Thameslink, the rail electrification programme and High Speed 2.

It is envisaged that headquarters will be set up in Birmingham.

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