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Railtrack must 'seek skills abroad' to fulfil staffing promise

RECRUITMENT CONSULTANTS have warned that Railtrack will have to look abroad if it is to keep a promise made to MPs last week that it will take on 'hundreds' of civil engineers.

They also said that the track operator would need to train non-specialist engineers in rail engineering because of skill shortages in the rail sector.

Last week Railtrack technical director Richard Middleton told the House of Commons transport sub committee that the company was to recruit 'hundreds' of engineers as part of a move to take a more hands on approach to track inspection.

Bridget Ingram of recruitment specialist Anders Elite said that Railtrack would have to think 'laterally' to find ways around current skill shortages. 'Lots of agencies are now recruiting abroad and training up non engineering, numerate staff.'

Rail Industry Training Council chief executive Jackie Chappell said the railways needed stability before they could attract new staff. 'The industry needs a long term investment plan against which long term recruitment can be planned, ' she said.

John Wilson, senior rail business manager at recruitment consultant Hays Montrose agreed.

'There is undoubtedly a shortage of good people. Rail being such a specialist industry makes recruitment more difficult.' He too said training was vital.

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