Nexus, the public body which owns and manages the Tyne and Wear Metro, has underlined its commitment to training and development with the appointment of a new head of learning.
Heather Blevins, who has returned to her native North East England from the Midlands to take up the newly created role, will head up the delivery of training programmes for Nexus.
This includes overseeing the move to a new £9.8m Nexus Learning Centre in South Shields, which, when completed, will bring all of the Nexus training needs under one roof.
Heather brings a wealth of experience to the role, having previously worked in learning and development for Coventry City Council and Warwickshire County Council.
She said: “This is a wonderful opportunity for me. I’m proud to have joined an organisation that has made such a big commitment to the developments of its employees.
“It’s a really exciting time because we’re looking ahead to getting a new fleet of Metro trains, an entirely new train depot, and a new learning centre for staff development and training.”
Nexus, the public body which owns and manages the Tyne and Wear Metro, is currently building a bespoke learning centre at Mile End Road in South Shields to deliver a wide range of rail infrastructure and operations training.
When completed it will provide training for apprentices, front line leadership and management development, ensuring that all of the 1,000 plus Nexus workforce will benefit from the new facility.
Heather said: “Our new learning centre gives us an amazing opportunity to bring all of our training needs under one roof. When the facility opens it will be my job to ensure it meets the needs of our staff and the wider community.
“It gives our workforce a training base fit for the 21st century, and it will get us out of some of the old temporary classrooms that we currently use for learning and development.
“If we value our employees then we have to value their learning and development. It’s the key to getting them out and delivering the best possible services for the people who rely on our services.”
The new Nexus Learning Centre is being funded through a £7m grant from the Government’s Local Growth Fund Deal through the North East Local Enterprise Partnership and a £2.8m contribution by Nexus.
The new facility will include a 70 metre stretch of dual track for Nexus to carry out rail infrastructure training, including track, track points, signalling and overhead line.
The new three-storey training centre itself will eventually house a new computerised Metro driver training simulator, in preparation for the delivery of new Metrocars from 2021.
It will also allow engineering staff to learn how to maintain the new trains, and for Nexus to safely and securely stable Metro trains overnight in South Shields, allowing for an earlier start of services and later evening services from South Shields when the new train fleet is brought into service.