Training for rail workers needs urgent improvement

for people working in the rail industry urgently needs to be improved,
according to Lifelong Learning minister Malcolm Wicks.

In a
letter to the chairman of the shadow Strategic Rail Authority Alastair Morton,
Wicks expressed concern that “pitifully few” rail employees gain nationally
recognised qualifications and suggests that clear training and skills targets
be built into the franchises of the train operating companies.

Wicks said
that in the four years to June 2000, only 24 NVQs were awarded to train

Beverley Shears, HR director of South West Trains, claims that most train
companies do have a commitment to developing the transferable skills of their staff.
She said, “We already have the philosophy that, where we can, we will get
training externally validated.”

South West
Trains does offer management and customer service NVQs that involve
transferable skills but NVQs for guards and on-train services are job-specific.
She added that the company launched open learning centres last year to allow
employees to learn languages or gain GCSEs.

She said,
“I suspect what [the Government] is looking for is more visible confirmation
that the good training that is going on is of a national standard. But there
are some things that are specific to the rail industry.”

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