MALAYSIA: National railway operator Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad has signed a Memorandum of Collaboration with the UK’s National Skills Academy for Rail in order to support workforce training activities through the National Rail Centre of Excellence.

Aimed at developing a ‘highly skilled and professional workforce, not only for KTMB but also for the rail industry as a whole’, the MOC was signed by KTMB Chief Executive Officer Mohd Rani Hisham bin Samsudin and NSAR CEO Neil Robertson during a virtual meeting on March 25. This was witnessed by Malaysia’s Minister of Transport Wee Ka Siong at the MOT offices in Putrajaya and the UK’s Minister of State for Transport Chris Heaton-Harris.

KTMB’s existing Malaysian Railway Academy trains around 10 000 students each year, both KTMB staff and third parties. It offers courses in train operations and traffic control, track safety, rolling stock and infrastructure maintenance and engineering, as well as a variety of rail-related ‘soft skills’.

The National Rail Centre of Excellence has been established under MOT oversight ‘to spearhead development in the railway industry, including education and training within the railway sector by continuing engagement with academics, training providers and certification bodies, both local and abroad’.

According to KTMB, as ‘an established training and assessment provider in Europe’, NSAR ‘has a lot to offer in terms of training modules and standard development to cater for the gaps in railway related talents in Malaysia’. The idea is to further develop professional training programmes which could also benefit other railways and industry partners across the ASEAN bloc.

The MOC will run for an initial three years, with provision for further extension. It commits both parties to help develop the NRCOE railway skills curriculum leading to professional certification, ‘in order to facilitate, upgrade and expedite the process of up-skilling and re-skilling’, based on occupational analysis and the mapping of supply and demand. Advanced training facilities will be established including digital classrooms and computer-based training, as well as virtual and augmented reality.

‘KTMB and NSAR are highly committed to develop human capital in the railway sector’, explained Samsudin. ‘By nurturing more qualified and top-quality talent, NRCOE will drive productivity and improve competitiveness, ultimately enhancing rail industry performance globally. The investment made by the government will ensure Malaysia receives the full economic benefit of rail and infrastructure development.’