We continually need to learn new approaches and new knowledge in order to be able to guarantee good operational and financial performance in the future. Changing and learning go hand in hand. The NS vision on learning has six guiding principles: you learn to perform, you direct your own learning, you learn tailored to your needs, you learn on the job, you learn continuously and learning is always within reach.
NS is prioritising this vision, with the aim of accelerating the application of new knowledge and skills. In 2018 NS invested over €25 million in training courses and other educational activities. In total NS staff had 57,725 training days and completed 129,569 e-learning modules. Moreover, 164 training programmes were created or improved.
We also pay constant attention to lifelong learning. Employees get professional information in their work via apps, practical guidance and mentoring. Mechanics, drivers and conductors receive their own vocational training, often through close cooperation with regular educational establishments. In our own NS Learning Centre we maintain the professional knowledge of our employees with 8,695 different forms of learning, including the use of simulators, e-learning, apps, skills sheets and classroom learning methods.
Additionally, staff have an individual budget that they can use to make personal choices in facilities and activities relating to health and motivation at work.
Focus on professional expertise
The professional skills of our drivers, chief guards, customer service employees, safety staff and mechanics remain at the heart of all our learning activities. Our basic training is the starting point. About 300 drivers, chief guards and Safety & Service staff successfully completed their basic training last year.
In order to be able to work on the New Generation Sprinter trains (SNG) 750 drivers and 1,750 chief guards followed a training programme for these trains. We equipped all drivers with a tablet with the Mijn Vakmanschap (‘My professional expertise’) app so that professional information and rolling stock knowledge is always available up-to-date.
Safety and privacy
To guarantee knowledge and awareness of safety, 3,956 employees completed an online module on the new NS safety management system. The module is important for every employee who is involved with railway safety in their daily work and mandatory for every employee working with the safety management system.
We prepared NS employees for the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which became effective in 2018. 12,788 of them completed the online learning modules on this topic.
Rolling stock technology and TechniekFabriek
In anticipation of the introduction of new trains we trained close to 800 mechanics in 2018 for maintenance of the rolling stock. What is more, last year 263 of our mechanics participated in vocational training that was tailored to fit in with their work experience. This allows them to complete the training relatively quickly.
At the end of 2018, 102 students were following a two-year apprenticeship in Mechatronics at TechniekFabriek ( the ‘technology factory’), the place where NS provides technological training in the form of an intensive vocational programme for current and future train mechanics. Earlier, in September, 43 trainees from TechniekFabriek moved on to a job at NS.
NS is committed to multiple forms of learning. When developing new training programmes, the emphasis is on informal learning and learning on the job. Examples are providing supporting professional information via mobile apps, e-learning, workplace assignments or the train simulator. We also make use of the in-house expertise of colleagues: employees with experience in the area of team coaching, peer advice or facilitation assisted over 200 employees and more than 100 teams last year. Employees have access to a wide range of training options via the online NS Learning Portal, where they can also view their learning plan and qualifications.
If organisational developments have consequences for staff, NS ensures employees receive assistance from an early stage in finding new work within or outside NS. We do this to prevent redundancies among employees. In 2018, the majority of the redundant employees found new suitable jobs within the period during which they received assistance.
NS not only assists staff in reintegration, redundancy and outplacement, it also explicitly works on promoting employability. In 2018, over 300 employees made use of the help and advice offered by the Careers Advice department at their own initiative. A total of about 600 employees received assistance.
NS is also encouraging mobility, for example by organising ‘orientation days’ and ‘development positions’ for staff tied to shift schedules. On orientation days, employees can learn about what their work colleagues in different disciplines do. Employees in development positions spend three months gaining experience in a different working environment, further developing individually and investigating whether a career step in the chosen direction is an option.