National Skills Academy for Railway Engineering (NSARE)
After only 5 years of operation, the National Skills Academy for Railway Engineering (NSARE) established itself as the UK’s leading railway training and skills development organisation.
History & Context
The embryonic NSARE was founded in 2008 by Gil Howarth. Following two years of Research & Development, it was formally established in November 2010 with the support of the UK Government. Howarth & Co was a founder Member of NSARE; Howarth & Co was awarded a services contract to develop NSARE’s products and services and Gil Howarth was appointed Chief Executive. NSARE was ‘not for profit’ company, wholly owned by its Member organisations and at the end of June 2015 it had 364 Member organisations. At that time, its Membership included Network Rail, High Speed 2 and Transport for London including Crossrail; 30 Train & Freight Operating Companies; 190 consultants, contractors & manufacturers; 100 private sector training companies; 40 universities & Further Education colleges; 5 Qualification Development and Awarding Organisations. NSARE’s main functions were:
- Forecasting the skills challenges in the short & medium term
- Promoting the rail industry as a career of choice in schools, colleges & universities
- Professionalising (up-skilling) the workforce by developing Standards and Qualifications
- Transforming the quality of the training provision by Accreditation & Inspection
At the NSARE AGM on 1st December 2015:
- Gil Howarth was appointed Patron of NSARE
- NSARE became NSAR – The National Skills Academy for Rail
Supporting the UK Government
NSARE was a member of the Innovation in Franchising Team supporting the Department for Transport’s train operating franchise competition process, providing advice on Organisation, Leadership and Management. It also worked closely with the Infrastructure UK division of HM Treasury, providing advice on skills forecasting and the potential for positive Government interventions. It also managed the Skills & Resources work stream for the Rail Supply Group, jointly sponsored by the Transport Secretary of State and the Business Secretary of State.
Products & Services
Forecasting future UK railway skills requirements was a key NSARE responsibility; it published ‘Forecasting the Skills Challenge’ in January 2013, which identified the need to recruit, train and develop 10,000 railway engineering personnel by the end of the decade. It has subsequently completed detailed analyses of Signal Engineering resources and Traction & Rolling Stock resources. NSARE also undertook a Feasibility Study to predict the impact on the UK rail industry workforce of the implementation of the European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS).
Promoting the rail industry within schools, colleges and universities was and remains vital to ensure that young people gain an understanding that the rail industry can provide lucrative career opportunities.
Standards & Qualifications
Development of standards and qualifications to meet the industry’s needs, including apprenticeships and university courses was a major programme of work. In January 2013, NSARE commissioned the development of a new Vocational Qualification Framework for all Skill Levels in all railway engineering sub-sectors including apprenticeship frameworks. It published new qualifications for Track Renewals and Electrification. It managed the industry-wide development of new railway engineering apprenticeship frameworks under the Government’s ‘Trailblazer’ initiative.
NSARE worked with employers to understand their skills needs; with training providers to ensure they were delivering what the industry needed; and with other stakeholders to make sure that the industry had people with the right skills. NSARE improved the quality of training provision by the establishment and management of a unified Training Accreditation Scheme to ensure that each employee received high-quality training in the competencies that the employers specify. The objective was to ensure that the quality of the training provision was ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’ when measured against a framework consistent with that operated by Ofsted, which is the UK Government’s Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills.