One of the UK’s leading providers of rail related training has made a rallying call for more women to get involved in a sector that has thousands of immediate jobs available.
Davie Carns, Managing Director of National Infrastructure Solution (NIS), believes the industry needs to work harder to create more opportunities to ensure female talent can succeed.
The former Royal Marine is working with City of Wolverhampton College and the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) to help change perceptions and to highlight the vast array of roles available across the rail industry.
As well as many positions available on worksites across the country, there is also a diverse range of ‘off track’ careers, such as office roles, project management, health and safety and digital marketing,
Part of the recruitment drive is providing flexible training courses with start and end times that fit around paternal activities and educating employers on creating work conditions and shift times that are more accessible to women.
“With major infrastructure projects, including HS2 and the Midland Metro Extension well underway, there has never been a better time for a more inclusive workforce,” explained Davie, who started NIS in 2020.
“If you take the total rail workforce in the UK, only 14% are women…a stunning stat that we need to change,
“It’s not just about digging holes on track, there’s so many different opportunities for women looking for a career change or those entering or re-entering the workplace.”
He continued: “There’s thousands of jobs immediately available and, with our strategic partners, we can offer the training to help get them into the sector or, for those already plying their trade across the network, the opportunity to upskill and support progression.
“Rates of pay are good and individuals with the right aptitude can progress quickly into team leader and senior roles. It’s our job to equip learners with the right skills and to work with key employers across the industry to create employment opportunities at the end of their course.
“A perfect example of this is how we currently work with Vital Rail, who have donated equipment and resource to support our training centre.”
The partnership between City of Wolverhampton College and National Infrastructure Solutions is into its third year and offers a pioneering approach to academic/industry training.
Sector-specific and designed with employment at the forefront of the learner journey, the tailored courses are offered at different levels depending on the experience of the individual.
Supported by the West Midlands Combined Authority, the relationship also benefits from a dedicated rail training centre at the college’s Wellington Road Campus in Bilston. This is equipped with installation and maintenance equipment and a standard rail track to support courses on conventional, high speed and light rail lines.
The facility is also the first in the UK to offer training on slab track systems used in the construction of high-speed rail lines, such as HS2.
Louise Fall, Deputy Principal at City of Wolverhampton College, went on to add: “The biggest barrier is changing perceptions and proving to women that it’s not just an industry for men.
“Where we can really help is by working with NIS to make sure all levels of courses are accessible to female learners, whether that is a mix of online and on-site training or something as simple as putting training sessions at different times to avoid family commitments.
“That’s the simple bit. There is also a piece of work we need to do with employers to ensure they are offering the same flexibility when it comes to actual jobs. There is no point training women for positions where barriers to access the industry still exist.”
Clare Boden-Hatton, Director of Employment & Skills Delivery at WMCA, added her support:
“The relationship between National Infrastructure Solutions and City of Wolverhampton College is a fantastic model we’d like to use for other sectors and areas in the West Midlands.
“It’s ideal. You have the industry contacts and knowledge of NIS on one hand, and the academic wraparound expertise to support it. Both give individuals the best opportunity to forge a career on the railway.
“Our region is at the epicentre of the sector’s development with lots of exciting projects taking place. We want to bring in exciting new talent to make sure they are delivered on time and women – with the vast skills they possess – can make a real difference to the industry.”
NIS is walking the walk, with 50% of its 16-strong office staff now female.
“‘It’s important our business represents the society in which we live in and its equally important that everyone, regardless of gender, is given the opportunity to work and succeed within the rail industry,” concluded Davie.
For further information, please visit www.nisgroup.co.uk or follow NIS on its social channels.