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Rail IRC Chair Profile

In this month’s newsletter, we continue a series of profiles featuring the chairs of each of the 11 Industry Reference Committees (IRCs) we support. The chairs have a wealth of experience in their relevant industries and one thing in common – they are all passionate advocates of Vocational Educational and Training.

This month we profile the Chair of the Rail IRC, Victoria Kent

  1. How did you come to work in your industry?

I was studying Psychology at University and planned on a career as a Forensic Psychologist. When I found out it would be advantageous to have policing experience for the additional study programs I wanted to do, I applied for the Special Constable role on the WAGR (Western Australia Government Rail) network. I never looked back and am still in the industry.  I ended up working in different roles from revenue protection, Special Constable, Driver, Driver Trainer, Driver Coordinator, Acting Depot Master, Training Co-ordinator and now as a Rail Specialist in the learning and development team at Rio Tinto.

  1. What is your current role?

I design and develop the training materials for the Autonomous Trains and the other technology being implemented across Rio Tinto’s network to support improved rail performance and utilisation.

  1. What is the best part of your job?

It is a very interesting and challenging role. In my team we constantly strive to use the latest information and research available on learning, retention, skill fade, as well as adult learning principles to improve the way we design learning and development packages. It is also fantastic to work closely with the project teams installing, testing and commissioning new technology and equipment. So, in this role you are really at the pointy end and cutting edge of the technology being brought into Rail.

  1. Why are you an advocate for Vocational Education and Training?

I have experienced both the University and VET pathways and have a great appreciation of what both have to offer.  The more I see the impacts of new technologies the more I appreciate that the VET system is in a prime position to deliver just-in-time packets of training that people require in that moment for that particular task, job or role.  I see moving to skill sets and having a skills passport that allows people to build on learning and knowledge as critical for providing faster response times to industry, especially when Australia is building a skilled workforce that can adapt to technology.

  1. What has your organisation done to develop the skills of your workforce?

Rio Tinto has been working with our people on the changes brought about by automation and technology for more than a decade. Speaking for myself, Rio Tinto has encouraged me to be part of the Rail IRC, Skills Forums, TACs and other cross-sectoral workgroups and to share  the  knowledge  we have gained working with, and implementing, automation and new technology.

Rio Tinto has also led a collaboration with South Metro TAFE in Western Australia to develop new CERT II, CERT IV and micro-credentials qualifications to support the workforce acquiring the right skill base to work with the technology. Rio Tinto led this collaboration, believing that fostering sufficient skill levels can only be achieved if government, industry, schools, TAFE and universities work together. That way we are equipping West Australians with the STEM skills they will need to work in the roles of the future.

Rio continues to redeploy, upskill, retrain and support the workforce as part of our broader commitment to support our people through the transformation of our business. It is an investment of millions of dollars that I don’t think people are fully aware of.

  1. What are you passionate about? What makes you smile? 

I am an avid researcher in my spare time specifically around learning, wellness and health. I enjoy challenging the norm, i.e. conventional thinking and apply various approaches to my own day to day life. I learn everyday how systems and technologies work, how people remember and forget. I am also passionate about empowering people, enabling them to be the best they can, by having the tools and resources available to them in their own lives to set them up for success. The fact that I get to work with a team that embraces new approaches to development to enable our workforce is extremely exciting.

I also love photography and enjoy walking my dog amongst nature.