The next generation of rail professions have begun a pilot program during high school to prepare them to work in the rail industry.
Victorian students in years 9 and 10 are undertaking the Certificate II in Heavy and Light Rail Fundamentals (pre-vocational).
The course will count towards a VCE qualification and is delivered at the Rail Academy in Newport. The units of study involve training in railway operations, including customer service, safety awareness, rail infrastructure and rolling stock. It also involves hands-on training at the rail academy in addition to a weekly class at the Newport Community Hub.
This year 21 students are enrolled from schools in Geelong, Berwick, and Ringwood. The curriculum has been developed by Swinburne University of Technology with the leadership of the Level Crossing Removal Project and the Victorian rail industry.
“As we get on and remove 75 level crossings, build the Metro Tunnel and upgrade regional rail – we’re training the next generation of rail workers right here in Victoria,” said Minister for Public Transport Melissa Horne.
Currently, over half of workers in the rail industry are aged over 45, and only 11 per cent are under 30. With the increasing demand for workers with rail know-how and experience, pipelines of experienced staff will be needed, with 3,000 workers needed across Victoria by 2024.
“This Australian first is helping high school students get a taste for the rail industry – which is booming in Victoria thanks to our unprecedented number of projects on the go,” said Horne.
Once the pilot is complete in 2021, insights from the course will be used to further develop training programs.
In 2019, the Inland Rail project announced that it would be providing skills development for undergraduate students along the route of the project.