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by George Wilmot,
Senior Lecturer in Transport Studies, University of London
Training within the in the NEC management trainee scheme
THE, nationalized sector. of road haulage has suffered very badly from successive upheavals and reorganization caused by changing legislation. It has been subjected to almost continual change since formation as part of the British Transport Commission in the late 1940s.
There was an attempt at denationalization in 1953, a rethink in 1957, and in 1962 it was reformed as part of the Transport Holding Company in a period when heavy railway losses overshadowed r so many policy decisions.. Finally, it was established in 1969 on a wider and firmer base under the control Of the National Freight Corporation. Throughout this period there has been an enthusiastic approach to training and education but it has not beer; easy to preserve a continuity of approach in trying to evolve a pattern of training.
Thus, it is most encouraging to hear from Mr ViCtor Clements, the assistant director of manpower responsible for training at the NFC. that the training of future managers is now regarded as being much more realistic andin line with up-to-date methods. The whole potential management trainee scheme has been thoroughly investigated and revised to produce a pattern which differs considerably from the earlier scheme.
A great many comments have been made that the road haulage industry in general is
not gaining the services of .sufficient graduates. Probaby the most important factor in this low recruitment is the poor image or lack of information about the road haulage industry which exists in the minds of schools, career advisers and university appointments officers. The NFC has been at pains to try and correct this image and place the record of the industry in clearer focus but this "conversion" process cannot be effected overnight. But the NFC itself experienced little difficulty in recruiting 35 graduates (two as specialized engineers) for its 1971 management trainee course which started in September and also participating in the scheme this year are seven members who were already in the employ of the NFC.
The training course for management trainees has been cut back from two years to one intensive year. The former scheme envisaged the trainee visiting as many companies and areas as possible and supervision, both at local and headquarters levels, became rather tenuous. The new 12 months' scheme bases the main part of the training experience on one company. After a three weeks' induction course which ihtroduces trainees to the industry, the NFC and its member companies. 24 weeks are spent in company familiarization where the training concentrates upon specific projects based on the operating units of one company. The next 16-week period is concerned with trainees being employed on specific responsible tasks which have precise job specifications.
In the periods of training with a company, all the trainees attend four seminars of five days' duration at the Management Training Centre and these seminars focus attention on basic management skills. The final phase, which involves a three-week course in London, builds a bridge between the experience gained over the trainee year and being placed in the first management appointment.
Thus the progress of a trainee can be well supervized during the year. At the company level, a good assessment can be made of this potential as he will have followed his training systematically with the same company. Meanwhile, headquarters are in constant touch with the trainees both at their training locations and during the small five-day seminars and this is an aspect which is vitally important for the correct placing of trainees in their first managerial post.
Another important element in the one-year course is encouragement to take the Chartered Institute of Transport final examinations. This has now been made a great deal easier by the Institute's decision to exempt graduates entirely from the Intermediate examination.