Before Progress Rail acquired Downer Rail Freight in January 2018, the business went through some tough times and there were a number of job reductions and a number of redundancies. It was after this point that Downer started to invest in leadership training. Progress Rail has increased this strategy to invest in leadership training and skills.
Senior Regional Human Resources Manager, Dave Wilson, says the consequence of those times was that the people remaining had to be more multi-skilled and effective in their roles.
“We had a smaller workforce but needed to have the same capabilities,” Dave says.
Dave says the business made a conscious decision to invest in training, including leadership and management training. But not just at the senior levels of the organisation.
He says Forsythes Training is instrumental in helping Progress Rail to develop leadership training programs.
Helping apprentices to step up
Apprentices go through four modules of training which starts in the first month. They are given fundamental skills to prepare them for working in the industry including working safely.
“This training helps to set and reinforce the right culture,” Dave says.
“It gets buy in from our apprentices early on because we are investing in their development,” he says.
That development is not just about technical or job skills. As well as training from Forsythes, there is compulsory participation in a Toastmasters public speaking program. Apprentices and other staff also receive training in creating mentally healthy people and workplaces with Forysthes’ expert trainer Craig Semple.
“We focus on giving our apprentices, and all our staff, business skills, technical skills and life skills.”
“We have the first apprentices coming out of that four year program now and they will present to the senior vice president (SVP).
“The older apprentices also mentor the younger apprentices.
“We hope to keep all of our apprentices on board but if we don’t we are confident they will leave us a much better person, which benefits them and their next employer.”
Leadership – people want to get the job done
Dave says there are a number attributes to good leadership – attitude, aptitude and the ability to have effective relationships.
“A good leader isn’t necessarily the best at everything or even something technical.”
“As a leader you need other people to do what needs to be done, because they want to, not because they have been told to.”
The investment in leadership training at Progress Rail is flexible and ongoing. Dave says the goal is for all staff to end up acquiring at least a nationally recognised Cert IV in Leadership and Management but that the route to get there is deliberately varied and flexible.
Some staff initially do units of competency, others complete the full qualification over various timeframes.
A fantastic training partnership
Dave says Forsythes Training has been a major part of that effective, flexible approach. He says Forsythes customise training to meet Progress Rail’s needs.
“We need flexible options to fit around work requirements.”
“Forsythes’ expert trainers travel to us, in NSW and in Queensland, where necessary.”
“Training doesn’t have to be done to their timetable or at their training centres.”
“We have a fantastic partnership with Forysthes Training that serves our business extremely well, nationally.”
About Progress Rail
Progress Rail, a Caterpillar company, is one of the largest integrated and diversified providers of rolling stock and infrastructure solutions and technologies for global rail customers, with nearly 200 facilities in 16 countries. In Australia, Progress Rail provides locomotive products and services to key customers. It has a team of more than 850 people based in Australia.