The Case for Better Competency Management in Australia and New Zealand

AssessTech joined forces with Stewart Player Head of Operational Standards at South Western Railway (SWR) to host an online panel for the Chartered Institute of Railway Operators (CIRO).

We were exploring the challenges the railway industry in Australia and New Zealand face when creating the case for better competency management.

Railway operators in the UK faced many challenges around competence management.  AssessTech introduced a developmental competence management approach as a potential solution, which was supported by others within operational roles across the railway industry.  Empowering candidates to take ownership of their own competence encourages individuals to manage their own learning, prepare better and provides the questions and answers so they can ensure they understand what’s required of them.

Stewart Player started his railway career 38 years ago and from 2012 to 2021 was at GWR where he was frustrated with the amount of paperwork involved in the competence management process.  The European Train Driver Licence was being introduced which required a lot more management information to be provided.

Stewart Player, Head of Operational Standards, SWR

GWR were determined to move their competence management to a paperless system and find better ways to access competence data more easily (which at the time was locked away at local depots).  Developmental competence management has had a massive impact on culture across GWR.  At the outset of the journey, giving someone access to their own records was unheard of….and employees having access to feedback from an assessor and what your manager thought of you seemed risky!  But by changing their approach and taking the Unions with them on the journey, GWR has achieved an openness across the organisation – employees who were approaching an assessment were knocking on the door of their managers to find out where they were!

GWR’s policy is to ‘score candidates as you find them, not as you leave them.’  This helps pinpoint exactly which areas the candidates needed to improve on. GWR have adopted a developmental approach across the whole organisation from drivers to guards, shunters to dispatchers. 

Stewart has taken this approach to competence management in his new role at SWR.  He commented, “One of our key successes is having a dedicated person working on ACMS (AssessTech’s electronic competence management solution).  At SWR we can see the power of collaboration.  Our dedicated person is now involved in running an industry-wide group where they share best practice and discuss common threads with others who are either at an earlier stage in their journey or ahead of SWR on their journey.  This is reaping a multitude of rewards.”

The recording from the CIRO webinar and answers to the questions from the session will be available shortly. Watch this space for more information.

Gabriel and Alice Barnett from AssessTech are visiting the region next month. If you are attending AusRail in Brisbane from 5 – 7 Dec 22, drop by our stand #155 and #156 and say hello.

We have rules and regulations in the UK that railway organisations have to adhered to. Compliance is a must, but is a happy by-product of a developmental approach. Criteria is still criteria that needs to be followed by law, however the developmental approach is the result of the way we do it!
Gabriel Stroud

CEO, AssessTech

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