CWE going from strength to strength in 2023 – Nick Andrew

23rd May, 2023

“Our potential is massive – it’s exciting times for CWE.”

These were the words of CWE Managing Director, Nick Andrew, discussing the changes CWE had made in recent years. Pointing to the business’s rapid expansion into passenger and freight rail, the opening of its Centre of Excellence in Crowle and the introduction of the “Rising stars” apprenticeship programme, he talked about being able to make a real difference to customers.

And half way into 2023, we can already see some of that potential being realised. It’s been a jam packed year so far – CWE has grown its expert team, signed a major new maintenance service agreement with one of Europe’s largest rail firms and launched a groundbreaking campaign to call for action on the sector’s skills shortage.

Here, Nick gives us an update on CWE’s year so far:

Skills update

In February, CWE released its much anticipated report Keeping Talent on Track: Addressing the skills shortage in the rail sector. The document was the culmination of a discussion between some of the top professionals and academics in rail, all coming together to discuss the looming skills shortage in the sector and what could be done about it. 

The report addressed stark figures, which estimated up to 120,000 additional people would be required in the rail sector over the next five to 10 years. The roundtable covered a variety of issues, rail’s image, access to apprenticeships, attracting young talent, diversity and the current economic landscape. From the discussion came seven action items:

  • Breach the communications gaps
  • Share expertise to better engage
  • Engage the wider workforce
  • Campaign for clearer national strategies
  • Learn from other sectors
  • Celebrate the opportunities
  • Better signposting for career pathways

Now, nearly six months on from the release of the report, Nick believes the campaign has successfully helped raise awareness of the issue:

Nick said: “The feedback we have received has ranged from positive to defensive of the situation and made us realise what kind of impact the campaign has had. We believe it has helped raise attention, nudging people into talking about the skills gap again, which we consider a huge success.”

To download the Talent Track report, click here

Growing team

At CWE, we pride ourselves in bringing passion and expertise to every project. One of the ways we do this is to provide a tailored, personalised – and expert – service. We believe we’re excellent at what we do and we’ve been providing specialist, high-quality engineering solutions since 1966. That’s why the opportunity to grow our teams is always an exciting one. 

This year, we’ve been delighted to already welcome a few new faces to the team. Our Operations Manager, Tom Johnson, joined in April (CHECK). Tom is responsible for all of CWE’s on- and off-site manufacturing and overhaul activities, bringing a wealth of experience to the role. And this month, our new Project Manager, Michelle Choppin, joined the team. She heads up our off-site operations, including wagon GR programmes and Weldone. She’s previously worked in structuring processes for high-quality customer service and has an impressive knowledge of business development – in fact, she runs her own property firm. And we’re also delighted that our new Account Manager, Sophie Scargill, has joined the team – she’s responsible for keeping our clients on track and ensuring they’re satisfied with our services.

Nick said: “We’re delighted to be able to strengthen and develop our team as CWE continues to go from strength to strength. Our newcomers all bring with them a wealth of experience, skills and ideas that all align perfectly with CWE. Our people are what makes CWE such a success, so we always look forward to being able to add new talent to the team – hopefully there will be more announcements to come later this year.”

New opportunities

Earlier this year, Nick was also appointed Enterprise Adviser to Crowle secondary school Axholme Academy. The role sees Nick work with local students to help bridge the gap between education and the world of work, supporting pathways into industry for young people. This included Nick supporting Axholme Academy with its Careers and Employability event.

The role goes hand-in-hand with Nick’s passion for investing in the next generation to safeguard and create more engineering expertise and jobs within the rail industry, as well as CWE’s obligation to benefit its local communities.

At the same time, CWE as a business has also continued to sign major new contracts that help cement its place as a trusted partner and true problem solver in rail. At the start of the year, we signed a major maintenance service agreement with TOUAX Rail, the second largest lessor of intermodal railcars in Europe. The 12-month contract means CWE is providing overhaul and general refurbishment services for 32 wagons in the TOUAX Rail fleet – out of our new rail-linked facility in Scunthorpe.

Nick added: “These are some really exciting opportunities for CWE – whether its members of staff such as myself helping out in the local community, or the business providing its expertise and high-quality services to some of the biggest rail firms in Europe, we’re delighted to be able to do what we do best in a range of different circumstances.

“It has been a really exciting start to 2023 so far – we feel like we are going from strength to strength. Going back to what I said last year, I think this really does show the potential of CWE – and the best thing is, we’re only just getting started. We really want to keep on speaking to young people, having an impact in our local communities, pushing the need to act on the skills gap, growing the team and signing major new contracts. Roll on the rest of the year.”

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