Rail industry news (Australia, New Zealand), Workforce and Training

Swietelsky Rail Australia upskilling for the future

Swietelsky upskilling


As industries evolve and technological advancements reshape the way work is carried out, organisations must prioritise the continuous development and upskilling of their workforce, an ethos that Swietelsky Rail Australia (SRA) fully embraces.

Managing Director Anne Modderno says that in the rapidly changing environment, the commitment to fostering a culture of learning has become a strategic imperative for long-term success.

“Training and upskilling initiatives not only empower our team members with the latest knowledge and expertise but also positions us as an adaptive and forward-thinking company,” she said.

“We don’t want to be keeping up, we want to be leading the charge, and ensuring that our team members have access to training and upskilling opportunities plays a vital part.”

SRA has a multi-faceted approach to its training and upskilling, with a balance between on-the-job training, accreditation courses and trade qualifications.

Continuous learning in action

Dean Rowe’s journey to becoming an SQE (Safety, Quality, and Environment) advisor at SRA exemplifies the company’s steadfast dedication to ongoing professional development.

Rowe initially joined the SRA team in 2015, undertaking roles in safety and systems support. Despite already possessing a Certificate IV in Work Health and Safety and a Certificate IV in Environmental Management and Sustainability, Dean’s commitment to continuous learning led him to pursue further education.

Recently, he successfully completed a Diploma in Work Health Safety through National Training Masters, enhancing his expertise in the field.

Rowe attributes his career progression within SRA to the active support and encouragement provided by the management team.

“I have been thrilled with the active support and encouragement that the management team has provided, to ensure that people who want to learn and grow are able to,” he said.

This testimonial underscores SRA’s commitment to fostering a culture of learning, development, and professional advancement for its team members.

Other recent success stories are ballast cleaning operator/maintainers Nathan Latu, Zachary Nicholls and Peter Gardner, who recently completed qualifications to upskill in their area of speciality.

Latu, who achieved a CERT IV in Engineering (fluid power), Gardner, who received his Cert III in Engineering, and Nicholls, who completed a Cert III in Engineering, all from TAFE NSW.

In addition to continuous learning, SRA fosters a range of workplace opportunities for staff members to progress their careers.

Tahnee Sumner began her SRA career as a commercial administrator in 2017. Within three years, she progressed into her current role as HR manager and is now an active member of the senior leadership team.

“While completing my studies, SRA gave me the stepping stones I needed to gain real-world experiences in a nurturing and positive environment,” she said.

“In conjunction with my studies, I was able to learn the ins and outs of human resources, which led me to my current role of HR manager at Swietelsky.”

Sumner holds a series of accreditations and qualifications, including a recent completion of her Diploma in Human Resources Management. She has also been recently accepted into the University of Newcastle to commence postgraduate studies in Human Resource Management, which she will be completing while choosing to work full-time at SRA.

A partnership with a focus on developing future leaders

This continuous learning philosophy doesn’t stop at formal qualifications and includes a focus on other areas such as leadership. SRA has worked with Suzy Miller for several years, not only putting team members through the program, but also signing up as an official partner of the Suzy Miller Leadership Development (WLD) Program.

As part of this funding, they provided funding for two scholarships for Indigenous women or women from a disadvantaged background for the program’s 2023 cohort. They have now committed to a minimum of one participant scholarship every year, as part of the sponsorship.

The sponsorship aligns closely with SRA’s Sustainability Strategy 2023-2025 specifically targeting increasing female participation within their business and rail industry, as well as other STEM-related industries.

Learning and values go hand-in-hand

Earlier in 2023, a refreshed SRA leadership prioritised the development of company-wide values.  Created in conjunction with the entire team, these values now drive the strategic trajectory of the business.

Technical and Risk Director Gary Holden said that the waterfall effect of the values had been seen across SRA.

“Whilst upskilling and training has always been part of Swietelsky Rail Australia, its alignment with our value of excellence means that there is now a strategic imperative to proactively seek out additional formal training for our team members,” Gary said.

“We want to ensure we have the right people at the right time, but also show our team that we want to invest in their future and their career.”