New qualifications to support ex-military personnel back into civilian life and help drive the UK’s rail revolution have been launched.

EAL, the specialist awarding organisation for the industry, has devised a series of signalling qualifications with Linbrooke Services Limited and its specialist training arm, ntrs (network training and resource solutions limited).

It follows the formation of a National Training Academy by ntrs – an all-encompassing facility specialising in Telecommunications, Power and Signalling training.

Opened by music mogul and rail enthusiast Pete Waterman in early 2015 and endorsed by the Secretary of State for Transport, the Right Honourable Patrick McLoughlin, the high-quality facility includes an authentic track layout with a simulated rail platform and a live fibre network, which incorporates both legacy and 21st century equipment.

Linbrooke’s specialist training arm ntrs has been operating since 2002 and half of the company’s 300 staff are ex-military personnel.

The academy will deliver EAL’s NVQ Level 3 Rail Engineering Signalling qualifications and is working with EAL to develop courses in telecoms and fibre optics.

Tony Gaunt, an ex-warrant officer himself having served as a senior sergeant major in the Army Air Corps, has been with Linbrooke since 2013 as managing director and oversees the ntrs business.

“There is a huge shortage of skilled workers across the board in the railway sector with investment levels in projects like HS2 at record levels. Those who have worked in the military are ideal candidates to help fill the gap,” he said.

The first railway signalling courses begin in April 2015 for about 20 learners and Tony is hoping to expand what is on offer not only at ntrs - but to support EAL in expanding to other areas - with a particular focus on recruiting ex-military personnel.

“I have no doubt ex-service leavers will benefit massively from EAL’s courses. Their approach to working with training providers and employers to design bespoke qualifications is very impressive and I would like to see their expertise used more to support learners in the rail industry - in particular those switching from military to civilian careers.”

“Retraining or training is the easy bit – ex-forces personnel already have the discipline instilled in them from the military which means they are of good character with a strong work ethic. They are punctual, disciplined and have the foresight and understanding of working in a team which means they work extremely well in mission critical jobs.”

“They have a range of meta-competencies that can be tapped into which is not always recognised from their CVs and is something we are passionate about highlighting so they can be better understood. They make well-grounded, committed, consistent and trustworthy employees.”

Julia Chippendale, EAL’s managing director said: “Ex-forces personnel bring so many skills and qualities to the civilian working environment. EAL is proud to play its part in devising high quality qualifications to maximise the potential of learners and ensure their talents are helping the UK railway industry’s ambitious expansion plans remain on track.”

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