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GCU awards for South African rail staff

GCU graduates

Nearly 200 employees of the South African rail transport agency Transnet Freight Rail (TFR) graduated from Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) with a variety of degrees and 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. The initiative is designed to support Transnet’sMarket Demand Strategyand has been extended through a new contract to continue until 2021. 

Working with GCU and partners, the University of Johannesburg and the Institution of Railway Operators, TFR delivers a highly successful Railway Operations Management Programme giving employee opportunities at Certificate, Diploma, BSc, Honours and MSc levels. 

TFR, which specialises in the transportation of freight, is making its undergraduate BSc degree in Railway Operations Management and the new Master’s degree programme a core feature of its talent-management programme. It is part of the company’s seven-year growth strategy.

TFR aims to expand and modernise the country’s rail, port and pipeline infrastructure to promote economic growth in South Africa. 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, Director of the Institute for University to Business Education 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: “Today’s wonderful graduations are the result of a major commitment by Transnet Freight Rail in terms of human capital development.

"This is also a very important part of the considerable amount of work we are doing in the area of University-to-Business education at GCU. The South African Government are investing heavily in freight rail infrastructure and our project is part of the corresponding activity in investment in people.” 

The keynote speech during the ceremony was given by a member of Transnet’s Board of Directors, Dimakatso Matshoga. Ms Matshoga said: “We need to support the building of new capabilities, particularly in advanced manufacturing, to enable the shift in growth to a higher level.

"This will ultimately increase the opportunity for cross-border trade; digitise transportation and logistics across rail, trucks and ships, encouraging seamless integration throughout the entire supply chain. 

“Partnerships like the ones we have with GCU and UJ are 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 whom 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 with 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. It’s diverse rail network comprises 1500km of heavy haul lines and 3929km of subsidiary feeder routes.


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