Yesterday marked the start of the annual celebration for National Apprenticeship Week, giving people the opportunity to showcase and celebrate the apprenticeship schemes available, as well as the impact they can have on; individuals, employers, the community and economy.

With CP6 on the horizon, it is estimated that between £175 million and £190 million will be paid into the apprenticeship levy. It is crucial that companies take full advantage of this resource because over the next 5 years the industry will be facing challenges unseen before including; Brexit and major infrastructure projects like HS2, as well as a skills shortage, aging workforce, a lack of diversity and resources being underutilised. This in turn will have a negative impact on the delivery schedules and planning throughout CP6 and therefore investing in apprenticeship schemes will be key to ensuring a successful future within the industry.

The UK Government target is to develop 3 million apprenticeships by 2020, and INFRA Skills Ltd are supporting this initiative through their Level 3 Trailblazers Apprenticeship Scheme in partnership with Colas Rail. This bespoke programme focuses on providing learners with a route into the rail sector that hones their scientific, technical, engineering, mathematical and design skillsets.

INFRA Skills and Colas Rail are supporting both learners and employers by developing the Level 3 Diploma for Rail Engineering Technician Knowledge. Through the programmes the apprentices will be given the opportunity to develop the knowledge and skills required to complete the four core areas of the scheme. These include; Track, OLE, Signalling and most recently Traction Rolling Stock introduced in September 2018.

It seems that one of the most significant barriers preventing organisations from taking up the opportunity to develop apprenticeship schemes, is the availability and flexibility of the programmes. Innovations like the Level 3 Trailblazers Rail Apprenticeship scheme show a more flexible approach to rail apprenticeships, focussing on both the sectors requirements today, as well as in the future. By delivering an apprenticeship that meets the industry’s needs, INFRA Skills Ltd are helping to ensure that the sector can remain sustainable and grow whilst inspiring a new generation of industry leaders.

Dave McDonough, Rail Training Manager for INFRA Skills said “This programme has been a huge accomplishment, with 54 successful learners having completed the training since 2017, and a second cohort commissioned by Colas Rail is already underway. We are looking forward to seeing the continuous success of this flexible apprenticeship programme that is focused on the future needs of the industry.”

What were you doing before you started your apprenticeship?

I studied Electrical Engineering at college, having always been interested in this line of work. After leaving college I worked in retail, knowing it wasn’t going to be a permanent placement I started to look elsewhere. I was curious about working in the rail sector, and having spoken to a friend about the Colas Rail Apprenticeship Scheme, I decided to apply.

What does the Colas Rail Apprenticeship involve?

Colas Rail joined forces with Infra Skills in 2017, to launch the UK’s first Level 3 Trailblazers apprenticeship scheme. After being accepted onto the scheme in September last year, I initially took on the role of a Technician. After gaining a good reputation within the team, I queried whether I could try my hand at a Signals and Telecoms position. Having had an electrical based background from college, I thought a role of this type would be more suited to me.

What do you enjoy about the scheme and what have you been up to recently?

I thoroughly enjoy both the training, and practical aspects of the Colas Rail Apprenticeship Scheme. Currently working on site with the Brentwood Team, I travel up to Birmingham to complete any necessary training through Infra Skills. Dave McDonough provides the training for the Colas Rail Apprentices, and keeps it engaging by varying his teaching methods. I recently took part in a renewals project at The Severn Valley Heritage Site, as part of my training. As a team we created a realistic case study, providing us with real experience of tasks we could well be set to complete, when we go on to get our first job placement.

What is next for you?

I am planning to progress onto Level 4 after completing my Level 3 next year, and when I become fully qualified I can see a future working in renewals with the Colas Rail Track Team.

RSS Infrastructure Ltd (RSSI) and INFRA Skills have been shortlisted for the ‘Professional Services’ category as part of the Birmingham Post Business Awards 2018’.

The Awards aim to celebrate success, recognise achievement and highlight the innovative people and companies in Birmingham who are boosting the economy while making a positive contribution to the local community.

As part of the nomination submission process, the company provided evidence that demonstrated how it has demonstrated strengths in service excellence, business growth, innovation, technology, training and personal development.

RSSI has for the last 6 years been focusing on being at the forefront of technological innovations that deliver increased levels of safety and productivity. These core principles have been the cornerstone of the business and resulted in a series of initiatives that include the Semi-Automatic Track Warning System, Rostering and Fatigue Monitoring and Safe Driver Control Methods. This has also led to the company becoming a Midland Metro Alliance partner where it has been an integral part of both the design and development of the tram infrastructure.
The company is well-known within the industry for pioneering new methods of safety and enhancing productivity and efficiency through technology. This continued commitment to innovation resulted in RSSI being one of the first rail companies in the UK to develop a mobile application that allows both drivers and workers to submit Close Calls and raise any safety concerns, which are actively managed by the company’s compliance team. The application allows workers to submit vehicle inspection reports directly to the Fleet department ensuring vehicles are kept in a roadworthy and safe state. Furthermore, the application allows for the submission of site inspections and end of shift reports, which provides extensive insight and means that the company can actively engage with its workforce to ensure projects are completed on time.

INFRA Skills’ has received a ‘Gold’ standard from NSAR for its rail training and is also able to deliver; Lantra, Health and Safety, CITB, Apprenticeships and Equality, Diversity and Inclusion training. The company’s vision is to provide professional training programmes that will ultimately help to reduce the industry age and skills gap. To achieve this the company has developed strong working links with the armed forces, disability programmes, charities, local councils, ex-offenders and local community engagement initiatives.

It is initiatives like this that have enabled the group to buck the current trend within the industry which currently has an average S&T worker age of 57 and an average worker age of 47 whilst the number of female workers operating within the sector is currently at 9%. Thanks to these initiatives the average S&T age for RSSI workers is 41, average worker age of 37 and over 28% of its workforce is female.
Commenting about the shortlisting, Richard Toy, CEO of RSS Infrastructure and INFRA Skills Limited, said “Being shortlisted for the ‘Professional Services’ award is a distinguished honour and is testament to the ground-breaking work that we are doing here at RSS Infrastructure and INFRA Skills to deliver way in which our clients can benefit from increased levels of productivity and safety.”

Auctus Training Solutions Ltd (ATS) have now become an approved Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) centre, the CITB currently has 4 million people who have successfully been carded and they also offer a wide range on qualifications.
ATS is aiming to provide everyone with the right training for their environment regarding safety within the construction industry and can now offer three CITB accredited training courses for those new to their roles and refresher courses for those more experienced individuals, the courses will be running from our Aston based training centre in Birmingham.
Health and Safety Awareness Certificate
The Health and Safety Awareness Certificate is a one-day course (7.5 hours), which is designed to aid the understanding of potential hazards the construction worker may face on site.
It provides a practical summary of health, safety, welfare and environmental issues, identifying the delegates responsibility for looking after themselves and others; outlining the employers duties; and explaining what should be done if the worker thinks that anyone’s health and safety is being put at risk. This course is ideal for those wishing to obtain an industry accreditation card.
Site Supervision Safety Training Scheme (SSSTS)
The Site Supervision Safety Training Scheme (SSSTS) is aimed at those who have, or are about to acquire, supervisory responsibilities. This two-day course provides supervisors with an understanding of health, safety, welfare and environmental issues, as well as their legal responsibilities relevant to their work activities. It will highlight the requirement to promote health and safety to supervise effectively and is endorsed by Build UK as the standard training for all construction supervisors.
ATS also have the ability to offer SSSTS refresher courses, the refresher course is for delegates who have previously passed the two-day SSSTS course and can provide proof of successful attendance. It aims to bring health and safety knowledge up to date, as well as giving a thorough overview of the legislative changes and their impact in the workplace.
Site Management Safety Training Scheme (SMSTS)
The Site Management Safety Training Scheme (SMSTS) course is designed for site managers, agents and persons who are, or are about to be, responsible for planning, organising, monitoring, controlling, administering groups of staff.
The course covers all relevant legislation and other aspects which affect safe working in the building, construction and civil engineering industries. It highlights the need for risk assessment in the workplace, the implementation of the necessary control measures, and adequate communication to sustain a health and safety culture among the work force. The SMSTS is also endorsed by Build UK as the standard for training all construction managers.
The SMSTS course requires a refresher course every 5 Years. The aim of the refresher course is to bring health and safety knowledge up to date for delegates who have previously passed the full SMSTS course or subsequent refresher course and can provide proof of attendance.
For more information or to book a course please contact Rachel Green on:
0121 366 8809

Rail Partnership of The Year

The 2018 Rail Partnership Awards are bringing together the supply chain to celebrate the very best of 2017’s achievements in the rail industry. Network Rail is working in partnership with Rail Media to recognise organisations which are helping to deliver a better railway for a better Britain.

The Awards categories include any organisation that have worked with Network Rail on or near Britain’s rail network, maintained and operated by Network Rail.

Entries will be judged through a two-stage process. In the first instance, they will be short-listed by a team of specialists from Network Rail. A final judging panel that includes senior representatives from the rail industry will then select the winning entries.

Here at RSS we are delighted to be privileged enough to have been shortlisted within the category we have entered, for SME of the year. Shortlisted companies, including RSS will be attending the final awards dinner on Thursday 7th June.

RSS have made it their objective to combat the challenges facing the industry, Rail Safety Solutions Limited has for the last 5 years been focusing on being at the forefront of technological innovations that deliver increase levels of safety and productivity. It is because of these core values driving our initiatives and innovations that allows us to be shortlisted for this award alongside inspiring competitors such as BCM Construction, Train2Protect International, Lankelma and Webb Plant Group.

Some of our initiatives include: Community engagement through our partnership with the Black Country Impact; Safe driver control methods, leading the way in being the first company in the rail sector to utilise a specialist Driver Awareness Warning System; Working alongside the Armed Forces attracting many of those personnel who have left the military in search of a rewarding career in the rail industry and many more.

Some of our innovations include: Level 3 Apprenticeship schemes, creating a program that provides learners with a route into the rail sector and that hones their scientific, technical, engineering, mathematical and design skillsets; The companies HSQE induction process, enhancing workforce safety; Points board protocols, preventing budget being taken up with points run-through repairs and our personal warning system.

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion are the guiding principles that have governed Rail Safety Solutions (RSS) Ltd’s business strategy from the very beginning. The company is committed to acquiring a diverse range of talent to help foster an environment of creativity and innovation, ensuring that the organisation remains one of the UK’s leading providers of infrastructure services.

If the UK economy is to meet both its productivity and infrastructure targets over the course of the next five years, then it is fantastic initiatives like the Women in Rail ‘Big Rail Diversity Challenge’ that will help change perceptions within the industry of what is deemed ‘traditional’ tasks for men and women. This diversification of roles will help to improve business processes, inspire a new generation of industry leaders who in turn will help to formulate a lasting legacy that is built on a foundation of respect and appreciation of difference.

Women in Rail began the ‘Big Rail Diversity Challenge’ in 2016 and since then the event has doubled in size. ‘Women in Rail was created to improve diversity in the UK rail industry through providing networking opportunities and support for all women within the sector, to encourage companies and stakeholders to adopt diversity as a business strategy and devising initiatives aimed at positioning rail as an attractive career choice for young people.’

Adeline Ginn, Founder of Women in Rail commented “The Big Rail Diversity Challenge is an important step in the rail industry agenda. It openly seeks to disprove one of the most destructive myths in professional life: that women and men cannot work effectively together. By engaging both men and women in equal measure, we have started to tackle gender imbalance head on and create a more attractive, productive and successful industry in the process.”

This year RSS will be competing in “The Big Rail Diversity Challenge” in order to Network alongside other competing companies and support the Women in Rail’s overall aim of achieving a more diverse workforce.

Drew Rose, HR Advisor Case Study

Currently 1 in 6 people suffer with hearing loss, that is over 11 million people. Action on Hearing is a charity with the aim to assist those suffering with hearing loss, they provide support in order to allow individuals to live their best life. By the end of the year 2035 Action on Hearing predict that more than 15.6 million people will be suffering from hearing loss due to the ageing population.

At Auctus Management Group Ltd (AMG) is currently a level two disability confident workplace, meaning that all staff are provided with Equality, Diversity and Inclusion behaviour (EDI) training.

Drew Rose, HR Advisor at AMG suffers with hearing loss in his left ear. Before working at AMG Drew completed his Bachelors degree in HR Management at Coventry University upon completing this he then undertook a masters at Aston University.

Drew has not always suffered with hearing loss, this developed during his time at his previous employer. Here at AMG we assist where we can, for drew this means providing an extra computer screen. This was provided after an ergonomic test, which all employees are required to fill in upon starting.

This is just a small start out our way to increasing our ability at AMG to become more disability confident.

Auctus Training Solutions (ATS) Limited, a subsidiary of Auctus Management Group Limited, have partnered with Colas Rail to launch the UK’s first Level 3 Trailblazers Rail Apprenticeship scheme. The UK Government has introduced new Apprenticeship Standards (known as Trailblazers) which will replace the existing Apprenticeship Frameworks from 2017 onwards. The changes put the onus on employers to develop the new Standards, end point assessment plans and delivery models.
ATS, who have been awarded a ‘Gold Standard’ by the National Skills Academy for Rail (NSAR), worked in collaboration with Colas Rail to design a bespoke apprenticeship that focused on creating a program that provides learners with a route into the rail sector and that hones their scientific, technical, engineering, mathematical and design skillsets. Not only does our programme provide our learners with new, industry-based skills but also work towards improving social skills.
On the 9Th of May our apprentices took part in a day of training surrounding Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI). EDI training, expands our apprentice’s knowledge surrounding equality beyond company policies to create a better understanding. This is important for the apprentices to take part in as in the long run it will shape them into better managers, which we hope they will one day become, as we are focused on investing in the future of the workforce.
This training involved taking part in a board game, a new way of interactive learning. There are many benefits to interactive learning, the most important one being the increased level of engagement. The aim of the board game was to stimulate conversations between the apprentices to draw on their personal experiences from a variety of backgrounds. Using the board game is a way of allowing our learners to generate their own answers to important topics within the work place.
Not only does the board game played by the apprentices encourage discussion surrounding disability, but also mental health. 1 in 4 individuals have or will personally experience mental health problems and is an issue that should be addressed in the workplace. Currently our EDI training only briefly covers the impact of mental health awareness however soon will contain focused sessions surrounding mental health.
Dave Massingham said that ‘through my years of providing EDI training, I have noticed a significant change within the attitudes of workers. Yesterday was the largest progress I have seen so far; the apprentices already had a large knowledge base surrounding the subject.’ Following our Apprentices EDI training, all members of staff at ATS will take part in the training, as social awareness is rising, at ATS we believe that it is essential that our company must do the same in order to become disability confident – which we currently hold at a level 2 standard.

Rail Safety Solutions Ltd, a subsidiary of Auctus Management Group Ltd is a company that relies on skilled workers from many sectors such as, engineers, construction workers, welders. According to IHS Markit Report on Jobs for May 2018, these sectors are significantly lacking in skilled workers in both the UK and the Midlands.
The pool of available candidates for permanent roles in the Midlands is shrinking, making it more difficult to place workers into these roles. Auctus Training Solutions Ltd (ATS) also a subsidiary of Auctus Management Group Ltd aims to bridge the gap between available jobs and number of skilled workers available.
Latest data indicated that demand for staff continued to increase at the start of the second quarter. At 61.4 in April, the Report on Jobs Vacancy Index rose from 61.1 in March to signal the strongest upturn in demand for three months. The increase in job vacancies are related to major projects that will be beginning work, requiring skilled staff.
ATS is an accredited and approved training provider who delivers a wide range of national vocational qualifications (NVQs). Our aim is to provide quality training and assessment both in the workplace and in our training facility, with excellent one-to-one support and guidance for every candidate. With this aim, we should therefore be able to assist in filling the vacancies for skilled workers required.
We have received accreditation for the delivery of our training and apprenticeship programmes from the internationally recognised training authority, City & Guilds. They ensure that all of our training courses are designed to suit the needs of both the learner and the industry.

Auctus Training Solutions Ltd (ATS), a subsidiary of Auctus Management Group Ltd, are excited to announce that they are to begin working in partnership with Birmingham Metropolitan (BMet) College to reduce the levels of unemployed people as well as increase the number of skilled track personnel in the Birmingham area.
As part of this partnership, ATS will be supporting people not in education, employment or training within the Birmingham area in developing a career in rail and providing them with both the skills and knowledge of how to conduct themselves safely when operating trackside. The company will be assisting both Birmingham City Council and NSAR approved BMet in bringing opportunities forward through the delivery of training on the rules and regulations laid down by Network Rail to govern the sector; ensuring that all applicants are compliant and inducted safely into the rail environment.

The three-week training course will be fully funded by Birmingham City Council and delivered by ATS. As an NSAR accredited rail training provider, the course will focus on several key competencies that will offer them an excellent grounding on which to build their career and ultimately position them as ideal candidates for perspective employers. The bespoke course has been designed to meet the needs of today’s rail employers and includes; the Personal Track Safety Course with Track Induction, Industry Common Induction (ICI), Construction Skills Certification Scheme Card (CSCS), Small Tools Training, Asbestos Awareness and First Aid. Furthermore, the trainers will focus a significant portion of the first week on introducing the learners to the fundamentals of rail terminology and practices such as learning the phonetic alphabet, reviewing the PTS Handbook as well as undertaking the Health and Safety Induction as well as developing their employability skills, delivered by BMet. During their time on the course the learners will be able to take advantage of the company’s state-of-the-art IT suite based in Birmingham. Learners will also be provided with the opportunity to gain essential track experience, when they visit the company’s dedicated training facility based at Seven Valley Railway. Whilst there they will be able to put the skills and knowledge they have learnt over the previous weeks to use whilst operating within a safe and controlled environment. Upon successful completion of the course, each learner will be given an interview with Rail Safety Solutions, a subsidiary of Auctus Management Group and leading provider of infrastructure services, who will place successful candidates out to work.
All rail trainers have been approved and accredited by National Skills Academy for Railway (NSAR). Furthermore, ATS Management and the Health & Safety and First Aid trainers are approved and accredited by Highfield Awarding Body of Compliance and/or Ofqual.
ATS has extensive experience in assisting local authorities and government funded agencies, such as Black Country Impact and Talent Match, in delivering these types of courses and assisting people from a range of diverse backgrounds to overcome the barriers they are currently facing with employment. The success of these projects has already enabled a substantial number of job seeker claimants to stop their dependency on benefits and begin their journey into an exciting new career in rail. A significant portion of those that have successfully completed this course before have been placed with several well-known companies that include; Network Rail, Colas Rail and Midland Metro.

Ultimately, the success of these projects will help to reduce the numbers of unemployed people in the UK as well as help to fill the significant skills-gap that the rail industry is facing due to an aging workforce.