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The Corporation

Posted: 02/10/15

Rail sector showcase at studio school

The rail sector’s growing importance to the local and regional economy was showcased at a high-profile event in Mansfield yesterday (Thursday 1 October, 2015).

  • Emmet Bunting (left) welcomes (from left) Martin Rigley, Martyn Turner, Lucy Prior, William Rossiter, Ian Harrison and David Nettleton
  • Interim principal Heather Scott explains ways in which the studio school prepares students for the world of work
  • Lucy Prior outlines the work of The Rail Alliance
  • Martin Rigley from Lindhurst Engineering says the rail sector provides "significant opportunities" for Mansfield and Ashfield

It saw rail and engineering employers, business leaders and representatives of councils and other bodies hear about the region’s contribution to the railway industry – and opportunities to play a greater part in its future growth.

The event, ‘Reconnecting with Rail’, was staged by membership body The Rail Alliance – the sector’s largest networking organisation – and hosted by Vision Studio School.

Currently the only studio school in Nottinghamshire, it offers engineering as a vocational specialism and has links with employers across the sector, who provide work placements for students and help shape the curriculum.

Guests heard from expert speakers including employers and business chiefs.

They included Martin Rigley, chief executive of Sutton-in-Ashfield company Lindhurst Engineering, who urged more firms across the area to take advantage of the opportunities within rail – from manufacturing to the supply chain – and Martin Turner, business development manager at Derby-based BTRoS – a subsidiary of Bombardier Transportation – who explained how the business had successfully entered the market.

David Nettleton, director of Nottingham company Coriel Electronics, explained how their products and services were benefitting the industry, while William Rossiter, head of the economic strategy research bureau at Nottingham Trent University, outlined the financial benefits created by phase 2 of the Nottingham Tram extension.

Meanwhile, global opportunities for companies were outlined by Ian Harrison, East Midlands’ regional director of UK Trade & Investment (UKTI), while Steve Diksa, corporate development and sustainability director at Nottingham-based Bridgeway Consulting, explained its growth from small business to international contractor.

Afterwards, guests enjoyed a tour of West Nottinghamshire College’s £5.8m Engineering Innovation Centre on Oddicroft Lane, Sutton-in-Ashfield, which the school’s students access for their vocational training.

Mr Rigley, who chairs both the N2 Skills and Employment Board and D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership’s Transport Equipment Manufacturing sector group, said: “The rail industry offers some really significant opportunities for businesses in our area.

“Although Mansfield isn’t necessarily thought of as a ‘rail town’, the ongoing growth and investment in the sector means there is a need to develop its supply chain – and we have firms here that could play a big part in that.”

Mr Rigley, who sits on the studio school’s board of governors, said the event was also a “fantastic opportunity to champion” the new school, which opened in September 2014.

“The studio school is having a really positive impact on preparing students for the jobs market – but this only works by getting businesses involved. So it was great to tell even more employers what an amazing difference the school can make; not only to young people but to their organisation as well,” he said.

Assistant principal Emmet Bunting said: “We jumped at the opportunity to host this event. It has really put the school on the map with rail and engineering employers, which will hopefully lead to even more work placements for students.

“I’m really proud of the way we engage with employers and are training the workforce of the future. Developing even closer links with this rapidly-growing industry will provide exciting opportunities for our own young people.”

Lucy Prior, membership development and international trade director at the Rail Alliance, said: “By delivering events such as these for local companies and stakeholders within the industry, we’re able to provide manufacturers and service-providers with access to a wide network of suppliers, customers and collaborators.

“I am delighted that Vision Studio School accommodated us and also extremely grateful to all of the speakers, who showcased the railway industry’s importance to the local and global economy.”

Vision Studio School is a new type of school for 14 to 19-year-olds. It teaches the same core academic subjects as traditional schools but combines these with vocational qualifications in engineering, and health and care. These are delivered through project-based learning and work placements with employers. The school, on Chesterfield Road South, is sponsored by West Nottinghamshire College.