Transport Minister Claire Perry has officially opened the National Training Academy for Rail in Northampton.
The state-of the-art facility, in Kings Heath, is now ready for the first intake of students.
The academy was established in response to a forecast skills shortage of around 8,000 people over the next ten years, caused by factors such as the technological advancement of rolling stock, an ageing workforce, and significant investment and growth in the industry.
An innovative agreement between the National Skills Academy for Rail Engineering (NSARE) and the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) with support from the Department for Transport (DfT) has provided half the funds required to build NTAR, with Siemens contributing the other 50 percent.
The 50/50 funding agreement will release 50 percent of the academy’s training capacity to the wider UK industry, with the remainder used by Siemens’s own rail sector employees.
NTAR will offer 20,000 man days of training per year and will act as a national ‘hub’ with regional ‘spokes’ located at other train care facilities around the country. The bespoke facility, close to the Siemens train care depot, will combine the use of unique hands-on equipment and workshop facilities in addition to classroom-based teaching, using cutting-edge technology.
Members of the Rail Engineering Apprenticeship Group are also set to make full use of the academy and the first intake of students will include those from train operating company South West Trains.
Rail Minister Claire Perry said: “We are working closely with the transport industry to bring a sustained and lasting legacy of skills and opportunity for people across the UK. The opening of the National Training Academy for Rail is a major milestone towards delivering a network of transport infrastructure skills colleges and training academies, promised as part of our transport skills strategy.
“The Government is investing billions of pounds in rail and road projects, which will create thousands of exciting new job opportunities. More and more of these jobs are cutting-edge, highly technical and require Britain’s best minds. This new facility – and more like it – are just what the country needs to ensure we develop a workforce with the advanced skills required to build a transport network fit for the future.”
Simon Rennie, general manager at NTAR, added: ”Our ambition is to focus on transforming training in traction and rolling stock to genuinely contribute to tackling the Skills Gap in a way which both raises and creates standards, provides a fantastic learning environment, delivers innovation and, when put together, helps transform the perception of our industry to one where the breadth of technology and career opportunities are understood and developed”
Neil Robertson, chief executive officer of NSARE, said: “The UK rail industry is at an exciting juncture, with many projects creating thousands of jobs across the country. The skills shortage in the industry remains a challenge, with far too few young people dreaming of an engineering career, and fewer yet looking to specialise in rail. The well documented ageing workforce and significant technological advancements in our industry prove that there is a clear need for NTAR.”
Steve Scrimshaw, managing director of Siemens Rail Systems UK, said: ”Together with NSARE, BIS and the DfT, Siemens has invested in creating the National Training Academy for Rail (NTAR) to make sure the UK rail industry has the skills and expertise necessary to meet the future demands of this exciting and dynamic industry.
“I am looking forward to welcoming not only our staff and apprentices but also the wider industry being trained at NTAR.”