Workforce, Certification & Training

Teaching contemporary rail practices in the training room

The Certificate II in Rail Infrastructure, a foundational qualification for those in the rail maintenance and installation sector, involves over 60 units of competency and comprises seven core units and a selection of nine electives, spanning the maintenance and use of hand tools to safely accessing the rail corridor.

At the CERT (Centre for Excellence in Rail Training Pty Ltd), a training solutions provider for the rail and allied industries, courses are delivered by a team of trainers whose experience within the rail industry ensures that each unit of competency is taught with first-hand knowledge in mind.

One of those trainers is Craig Ramstadius, who brings with him 25 years of experience across construction and transport infrastructure. Sean Choat, National Quality and Queensland operations manager at CERT, described how Ramstadius brought this knowledge to the rail sector.

“Craig started his career in general construction, he worked for TAFE as well and about 25 years ago he got into rail and because he’s had experience with masonry, concrete, and bricklaying and it gave him insights into rail structures.”

Since joining CERT in 2012, Ramstadius has delivered courses through its competency-based approach to vocational education and training (VET).

“Craig worked in a number of companies, including Taylor Rail and he was in railway asset maintenance. He knows what he’s talking about, he’s done the work, but in terms of being an instructor, and he can assess people to their position of competence,” said Choat.

As a national training provider, with sites in each state and the Northern Territory, trainers such as Ramstadius have got to grapple with the varied standards and regulations that apply in each state and impart this flexibility to their students.

“Craig has come to Queensland to deliver some training in the past and it has been fantastic,” said Choat. “Because of the wealth of experience that he has, he’s able to apply himself, understand the rules and regulations in Queensland under this particular network because they’re all different.”

Similarly, Phillip Cavanough, a trainer/assessor at CERT can utilise a broad base of understanding across the rail industry to train the next generation of rail maintenance workers.

“Phil is very well qualified,” said Choat. “He delivers both our Certificate II in Rail Infrastructure and our Certificate III as well. Phil’s worked extensively in Queensland and Western Australia, he’s done some work in NSW and Victoria also.”

Cavanough, who worked for Queensland Rail as well as Fluor Rail Services, combines a knowledge of track infrastructure with rail operations, Choat said.

“Our trainers at CERT have that experience not just to construct a track, but to actually understand the interface between rollingstock, track, and signals,” he said.

Staying in touch

The experience that CERT trainers have enables them to understand the knowledge required to work in the rail industry that goes beyond the black and white stipulated requirements. Wayne Krause brings 22 years of experience for Queensland Rail and Aurizon to the training programs he delivers. Choat highlights that this experience brings more knowledge that can be shared with students and trainees.

“Wayne has qualifications as a track protection officer, so when he’s delivering training to our maintenance and construction students, he’s able to impart that awareness and understanding of rail safety and how it interfaces with working on track. For example, it’s important that you’ve got your protection in place when you carry out all of the processes so as to protect workers.”

Keeping this knowledge up to date is also something that CERT proactively ensures.

“Every 12 months, all of our trainers, no matter how experienced they may be, have to go back and do a vocational placement. So, they will go in to a rail environment and actually see what’s going on and participate.”

While these visits are a requirement, mandated by the Australian government for all training organisations to continue their registration, Choat highlights how businesses respond when a CERT trainer comes into the organisation.

“Our clients are impressed CERT values them as providing value in underpinning trainers’ industry currency.  As a result, our graduates hit the ground running having benefitted from their trainer’s exposure to current practice and technology on the job.  On the first day of work graduates are put into a gang and onto tasks and they know what needs to be done and how to do it.”

Undertaking these placements ensures that as the rail industry continues to modernise, contemporary practices are taught in the classroom.

“Our trainers are getting to see how technology and new types of equipment can improve the way rail work is done, so they can then come back and they can inform their learners, not on something that they picked up when they were a track worker themselves, but what’s happening now,” said Choat.

A holistic approach to training

After all, not every situation that a rail maintenance worker will confront can be simulated at a training facility. Bridging this gap, according to Choat, is the approach that CERT trainers bring to vocational education. 

“You can’t put people through and consider all the conditions they might experience on the job – they might be in night work, it might be wet, it might be confined spaces – so a good assessor can identify through asking underpinning questions, like, ‘If it was dark and there wasn’t enough lighting, how would go about performing this job? If a machine broke down, what would you do?’”

These outcomes ultimately deliver a more skilled and competent rail workforce, said Choat.

“We like to think that our graduates hit the ground running and they’re contributing to a better rail system in Australia.”