John Holland Rail is a core business of engineering, construction and maintenance company, John Holland. The organisation is responsible for rail maintenance and construction projects across Australian metropolitan centres, regional areas and remote locations.
A little over a decade ago John Holland Rail had a virtually non existent internal training system, but today it has the largest rail infrastructure training team in the country, employing 18 specialists around Australia to upskill its workers.
John Holland Rail is also an enterprise RTO, assisting the organisation to further develop its people and support a workplace culture that supports training.
Tony Landi, who runs the team, says watching people grow in a sector that’s also growing has been the most fulfilling aspect to his job. “It is great to see workers have their skills recognised, but also be open to learning new things,” he says.
Landi, who is John Holland Rail’s national training manager, has led the rail track training that, to date, has seen 124 track workers gain national qualifications developed by the Transport and Logistics Industry Skills Council (TLISC).
The training included a Certificate IV in Frontline Management and, given John Holland Rail’s status as a high-risk workplace, a focus on better communication, documentation and information technology skills for worker health and safety.
Having successfully rolled out this project, the company won the Chairman’s Award at the 2013 TLISC Awards for Excellence; and was highly commended in the Innovation and Excellence in Workforce Development Award – Rail.
As an Australian engineering, construction and maintenance company, John Holland supports some of the country’s most important infrastructure, transport and development projects. The rail division is a core part of its business.
The program aims to prepare trackworkers for future supervisory roles.
The company has a particularly strong internal focus to nurture and develop its people, and a renewed workplace culture that supports training is a part of this.
However, training track workers is not a straightforward task. Many are in far flung parts of the country and the traditional classroom is not their natural fit.
“The biggest challenge we have is geographical,” Landi says. “It is a bit easier in New South Wales and Victoria, but we have operations in Western Australia.”
Training focused on digital literacy as well as equipping staff with skills to focus on safety improvements.
John Holland is also at the fore of a sector that is quietly transitioning towards a new era of qualified workers. While it is common for workers to have been doing track for decades, rail knowledge and on-the-job expertise is no longer sufficient.
“The requirement now is not just that you’ve done it on the job for 30 years. The legislation is very clear about where competency exists in an Australian quality training framework. You must be able to demonstrate people hold that.
“But the big thing we focus on, though, is that it is not about the bit of paper. Yes, we need the bit of paper to work on those rail networks, but it is what goes into getting that bit of paper – the underpinning skills and knowledge.”