A new generation of rail talent is being developed in Victoria. Training for the Future, a State government and industry partnership program, is building a skilled, diverse and socially inclusive workforce for the rail infrastructure industry.

The initiative is led by the Level Crossing Removal Authority (LXRA), with input from Metro Trains Melbourne, Public Transport Victoria, V/Line, Transport for Victoria, Rail Projects Victoria, VicTrack and Yarra Trams. The Level Crossing Removal Authority (LXRA) was established in 2015 by the Victorian Government to oversee major rail projects including the removal of 50 level crossings, extension of rail to Mernda, and the Melbourne Metro Rail Project.

Training for the Future programs – GROW, GEN44 and GEN8 offer people from disadvantaged backgrounds including asylum seekers, refugees and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people the skills and qualifications they need to gain employment in the Victorian rail industry.

112 participants have completed the GROW program, which has given them training and employment opportunities in the transport and construction industries.

The GEN8 program provides up to eight internships each year to asylum seekers or recently arrived refugees who have professional qualifications and experience from their countries of origin. Internships provide valuable local experience and access to industry networks – both of which are often barriers to newcomers to Australia looking to work in their profession. They provide participants with entry-level roles, helping them to identify transition pathways to longer-term opportunities.

GEN44 is designed to build a diverse pipeline of graduates ready for careers in rail and transport. Through partnerships with Project Alliances, Joint Ventures and Training for the Future Partners, GEN44 provides 44 rail-focused internships each year to university students who are Aboriginals or Torres Strait Islanders; have a disability; are from low socio-economic backgrounds; are refugees/asylum seekers.

The GROW, GEN 8, and GEN 44 and GROW programs were established in late 2017.  In this short time, a third of GROW participants and 62% of GEN44 interns have come from refugee and/or asylum seeker backgrounds.  In its first 10 months, 15 interns completed the GEN8 program and 23 GROW participants have secured employment. 24% female participation across the programs is a great outcome for the rail and construction industry

Another Training for the Future initiative is the TRANSIT program for workers from declining industries, including former automotive workers. The program focuses on practical, job-ready skills and training required to work within a construction and railway environment. Already 43 retrenched automotive workers have completed the program, learning about job and career opportunities across the rail and public transport sector including rolling stock manufacturing, plant maintenance and operations. Several participants are now working in the rail infrastructure sector.

The  achievements of the Training for the Future program were recognised and celebrated at the Australasian Railway Association’s 2018 Rail Industry Awards, with LXRA winning the Workplace Diversity Award. Accepting the award, Bradley Giddins, Director Industry, Capability and Inclusion at LXRA, said: “I am extremely proud of the work we are doing in the rail industry capability and inclusion space. This award is an acknowledgement of the success of the Training for the Future program and the industry partnerships we have created to deliver it. The award also recognises that we are setting the industry benchmark for best practice in diversity and inclusion as we deliver major transport infrastructure projects.

“LXRA and our construction partners have employed many people who have acquired the skills we need to deliver our projects through the Training for the Future program. This includes rail signalling engineers, civil engineers, project managers, construction workers, and finance, health & safety and other professionals. We have also been able to procure high-quality goods and services from social enterprises, such as trees and plants for landscaping, printing, catering and photography services, general labour hire, and waste management services”.