NS encourages employees to keep developing themselves. This will help them remain employable and attractive for employers within NS or elsewhere on the labour market. In 2020, NS invested over €15 million in training courses and other educational activities. This is lower than the amount in 2019 (€21 million), owing to cancellation and postponement of programmes. In all, NS employees attended 196,031 training activities.
In our own NS Learning Centre, we train new employees and maintain the professional knowledge of all our staff by offering different forms of learning, enabling them to continue developing their knowledge and skills. This involves training tools such as simulators, e-learning tools, apps, professional pages for on-the-job learning, as well as classroom teaching. We continually refresh and update the range of tools available. After the outbreak of COVID-19 we started offering our basic training, refresher training and work meetings online as soon as the situation allowed us. This required major adaptations, both from our staff at the Learning Centre and from the participants.
Focus on professional expertise
In 2020, we expanded our partnership with MBO Amersfoort for training our chief guards, which now involves 17 students. Approximately 50 train drivers joined in 2020 through the Regional Training Centres in Amsterdam and Twente and STC. Within NS itself, 174 chief guards, 67 general service staff and 74 Safety & Service staff successfully completed their basic training in 2020.
Rolling stock technology and TechniekFabriek
At the end of 2020, 34 students (17 first-year and 17 second-year students) were doing a two-year apprenticeship in Mechatronics at TechniekFabriek (the ‘technology factory’), the institute for technical training where current and prospective train mechanics complete an intensive vocational programme. Last year, 33 students from TechniekFabriek moved on to a job within NS. We developed a series of master classes to promote maximum involvement of students in the world of practice, despite the remote learning format. Following a short break, lessons resumed in June and all students eventually managed to move on to a job. The first-year students completed their final modules in September and embarked upon the second year of training in October.
In order to provide a controlled learning environment, we launched a pilot project involving virtual reality tools. The results are good, students are enthusiastic and recognise the added value of this approach.