The First World Congress on Rail Training, which took place in Spain at the Industrial Engineering School of Madrid from 6-8 April 2011, was attended by some 170 delegates from 34 countries worldwide.
The Congress was attended by railway human resources departments, railway training centres, railway academies, consultancy firms, universities, national safety agencies and railway regulatory authorities and manufacturers.
The Congress was organised at the initiative of the UIC Expertise Development Platform and was sponsored by DB training, CITEF, Funkwerk, Lloyd’s register and CETREN.
The two and a half days’ Congress featured a combination of plenary sessions, workshops and technical visits. An exhibition supported by training providers and technology specialists was held in parallel.
The Congress offered an opportunity for delegates to explore examples of best practice in different areas, such as defining training needs, training methodologies, training design and delivery, assessment, skills fade and optimisation of competence retention.
The results of the comparative study on railway training provision for safety critical job positions in Europe which was commissioned from the University of Würtzburg by the UIC European network of rail training centres was also presented and discussed at the Congress.
Throughout the different presentations, workshops and discussions, the following topics were raised as fundamental issues that world rail training providers will have to tackle in the near future.
- Demographic challenge and the need to secure the next generation of rail transportation employees
- The need to define training needs, integrating non-technical skills in order to optimise learning
- The need for rail training providers to address the topic of measuring ROI (Return On Investment). Training is an investment which delivers measurable benefits in relation to business performance, financial returns and workforce productivity, and its ROI can and should be calculated like any other investment. The lack of systematic and empirical studies on transfer-of-training effects has a negative impact on the perception of training.
- The loss of “Corporate Memory” and the need to optimise Competence Retention, particularly in safety critical roles
- The importance of organisational learning
- The contradiction between the role of the trainer as a key player in the development of railway employees’ competences and skills (hence a safe and interoperable railway) and the comparatively low recognition of the job and consequent difficulty in recruiting new, qualified trainers
- The need to invest in new training approaches (partly due to decreasing resources)
The success of the event and the intensive exchanges between congress attendees that took place throughout the event demonstrated the value of networking and of regular professional dialogue among the rail training providers.