2019-Transnet Graduation 2019

Glasgow Caledonian University awards for South African rail staff

Thu, 05 Dec 2019 15:11:00 GMT

Nearly two hundred employees of the South African rail transport entity Transnet Freight Rail (TFR) graduated from Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) on Thursday with undergraduate and masters qualifications in railway operations management.

The ceremony took place at Transnet Freight Rail’s, School of Rail campus at Esselenpark, Johannesburg.

More than 700 TFR employees have now successfully completed the programme since its establishment in 2013. Designed to advance and promote the safe, reliable and efficient operation of Africa’s largest freight rail network, the initiative is intrinsically linked to TFR’s human capital strategy and the suite of rail programmes have become the organisation’s flagship talent development solution.

GCU and partners, the University of Johannesburg and the Institution of Railway Operators, have collaborated to deliver a highly successful Railway Operations Management Programme suite giving employees opportunities at Certificate, Diploma, BSc, Honours and MSc levels.

2019 is the year of the first Masters and Honours graduates who are drawn from a range of senior management roles in the business ranging track engineering, principal engineers, organisational development and performance, project execution and delivery on national freight business and iron ore line rail infrastructure.

Working in the dual contexts of catch-up and workforce development to build the intellectual and social capital of the 5th largest freight rail network in the world this learning investment by TFR is critical to customer-focused sustainable growth and new business acquisition against a backdrop of increasing technological change and systems integration for the rail industry.

Almost 1,400 employees at middle, senior and management levels will have joined the programme by 2021.

Today’s graduations were led by Fiona Stewart-Knight, Assistant Vice Principal Business Partnerships at Glasgow Caledonian University. The degrees and awards were conferred by Professor Mike Mannion, Assistant Vice Principal Academic at GCU. Also taking part in the ceremony was Professor Daneel Van Lill, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Management at the University of Johannesburg.

Fiona Stewart-Knight said: “GCU is honoured to have delivered in partnership, the first MSc in Railway Operations Management and BSc (Honours) as critical new academic pathways designed to enable TFR’s intellectual and structural capital. This phenomenal and continued investment in people and a ladder of undergraduate and masters qualifications will grow opportunity for insight, perspective, solutions and innovation across South Africa’s Freight Rail network and the wider African continent. It has been wonderful too, to have the support of British High Commissioner Nigel Casey, MVO at this year’s graduation who declared the ceremony uplifting and inspiring.”

Ms Dimakatso Matshoga, a member of Transnet’s Board of Directors, gave a keynote address at the ceremony on behalf of Transnet Chairman Dr Popo Molefe who was called to participate in a Presidential visit to Ghana. At the time of Graduation, South African state-owned enterprise Transnet signed an agreement with the Ghana Railway Company Limited and Ghana Railway Development Authority on the rehabilitation of the Takoradi Tarkwa railway line in the western region of Ghana.

Ms Dimakatso Matshoga, said: “Partnerships like the ones we have with GCU and UJ are an important step in moving our operations forward and overcoming our biggest challenges in knowledge, skills, research and innovation. If we are to expedite infrastructure growth and industrialisation on our continent, we need to seek out partners with which we can drive revolutionary technology and digital development within South Africa as well as, and beyond, our borders.

The involvement with the University of Johannesburg started more than fifty years ago when Transnet was instrumental in the establishment of a Chair in Transport Economics.

Professor Gert Prinsloo, who oversees the extended Railway Operations Management Programme at the University of Johannesburg (UJ), said: “I congratulate the latest cohort of graduates! UJ is proud to be part of an international agreement between Transnet Freight Rail and GCU that has resulted in Transnet Freight Rail employees receiving international qualifications in South African railway operations management.

“UJ’s Department of Transport and Supply Chain Management is looking forward to continuing working alongside such collaborative stakeholders and trust that the graduates will find that the qualifications will hold them in good stead."

Transnet Freight Rail (TFR) is the largest operating division of Transnet SOC Ltd and has a workforce of more than 26,000. Its diverse rail network comprises 1500km of heavy haul lines and 3929km of subsidiary feeder routes.