An academy for train engineers in Northampton will attract highly-skilled people from across the country, the secretary of state for transport has said.
The National Training Academy for Rail (NTAR) in Kings Heath is five weeks from officially opening and was visited by Patrick McLoughlin MP today.
He said the benefits to the town and wider UK would become apparent in short order.
Mr McLoughlin said: “I think Northampton might just be saying, gosh, we have a brand new railway station state-of-the-art, which looked terrible for a very long time and was not acceptable. Now we’ve now got a new training college here in Northampton.
“And what you will find is all the people sent to train here will need to find accommodation here for several weeks, bringing money to the town.
“I think its something Northampton can be proud of.
“I hope people become more aware of it . It’s a new facility it opens in five week’s time and I hope it gets more talked about as time goes on.”
Mr McLoughlin was in Northampton to outline plans to create more than 30,000 apprenticeship places in the road and rail industry over the next five years.
Over the next ten years, there will be a likely skills shortage of over 8,000 jobs specifically in traction and rolling stock.
In addition to the industry’s ageing workforce, a key problem is a lack of diversity, with women making up just four per cent of the rail industry workforce.
WHAT IS THE ‘NTAR’ RAIL SCHOOL?
Announced in 2013, National Training Academy for Rail (NTAR) was set up to help plug the skills gap and act as a national ‘hub’ for rail engineering excellence in traction and rolling stock.
With the first intake of students due later this year, the academy will help train rail professionals from across the industry.
It aims to develop the next generation of highly-skilled rail technicians, engineers and managers in traction and rolling stock.
The academy is a joint project between NSARE, the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) and the Department for Transport (DfT), who have provided half the funds required, with global engineering giants Siemens contributing the rest.
All of Siemens’ 71 rolling stock graduates, interns and apprentices will learn at NTAR when it opens.
NTAR will also take on South West Trains’ engineering apprentices, providing technical skills, training and qualifications through its Northampton hub and its network of partner colleges.
General manager of NTAR, Simon Rennie, said: “We serve a number of defined audiences – those in engineering careers joining rail for the first time, those working in rail maintenance wanting to upskill in response to evolving technology and young people embarking on their first careers within rail.”