Sorcha speaks to Rob Aylward, Head of Recruitment at GWR
Our recent series of interviews with leading recruitment professionals sees Sorcha speak to Rob Aylward, Head of Recruitment at Great Western Railway
Great Western Railway’s (GWR) recent recruitment revamp has put the company’s resourcing at the top of the industry thanks to Rob Aylward, divisional head for GWR’s award winning recruitment team. Rob, along with his team of 11, won In-House Recruitment team of the year at the Recruiter Awards this year after successfully executing an overhaul that has created a best practice example of how to recruit.
When Rob took up the position in December of 2014, GWR needed to recruit enough drivers and engineers to meet the demands of a complex travel network which provides rail services across than ten counties. Their approach needed to be reshaped in order to better anticipate future demands, ensure consistency in practices across geographical locations and streamline their overall processes.
Two years ago GWR had a paper-based application process, and they have since integrated a multi-tiered strategy and have grown their workforce by 650. This modernisation and future proofing of the resourcing agenda enables GWR to cope with the demands of a fast paced railway and is now considered to be industry leading.
The transition to paperless applications was complemented in the form of monthly workforce planning meetings, and a newly integrated ATS – two elements alone that have reduced time to hire by 29%. A renewed focus has been placed on the careers site, promoting company culture and solidifying a strong “talent brand”. Rob and his team find that candidate experience has greatly improved and this effect has been felt positively throughout the entire organisation.
Colin Barber, Senior Guard Manager at GWR said,
“It’s a much-improved process – we have sight of candidates’ applications and their progress through the process. It’s a smoother operation now, from selection through to induction.”
The next progression point is to focus on diversity – a prevailing challenge for the industry.
Although hiring managers and assessment processes are fair and robust, the railways need to be able to attract a wider audience. With GWR being part of such a traditional industry, the challenge comes when trying to attract people to work in rail that would not have necessarily considered it. Many working in rail do so because of generational ties to the industry. While this is something to commend, Rob’s team also needs to ensure that they attract the very best people from all walks of life.
The long-term aim is to improve the attractiveness of rail, for those outside to want to come and be part of something special and to bring and share their experiences from other industries.
We wish GWR all the best as they move forward and our heartfelt congratulations to Rob and his team!