Japan Railway & Transport Review No. 54 (pp.14–23)

Feature: Human Resources Development in Railways (part 2)
KORAIL Human Resources and Infrastructure System Towards ‘World’s Best, Korean Railroad’

Kim Hyungsik

Korea Railroad (KORAIL) Corporation’s policy of becoming the ‘World’s Best, Korean Railroad’ is prioritizing efforts to enhance passenger satisfaction to provide the world’s best railroad. KORAIL knows this means winning the public’s heart by providing a safe and convenient service that comes instantly to mind when planning a trip. This article introduces KORAIL’s human resource development (HRD) system and infrastructure for training its employees to achieve that business vision.

Goals and Promotion Strategies for HRD

Based on its mission of a ‘green railroad network for a richer life,’ KORAIL is developing creative people, including result-oriented leaders, specialist engineers and technicians—who generate new value from their expert technical background, and globally oriented personnel— who develop overseas business and open doors to the future. Such people spare no effort in making the ‘World’s Best, Korean Railroad’ vision a reality by focusing on customers, profitability and change. They will implement a fresh managerial system and work actively to achieve their vision. To reach these goals, KORAIL is targeting Development of Creative Human Resources by promoting a diverse range of strategies (Fig. 1).
KORAIL has redirected its previous focus from quantity to quality and has standardized all its training programmes to achieve creativity-oriented HRD (Fig. 2).

Photo:  Main HRD building in Uiwang City, Gyeonggi-Do (Author)
 KORAIL Managerial System and Promotional Direction for Integrated Strategic Collaboration in Developing Human Resources
Figure2:  Promotional Direction for KORAIL HRD
Figure3:  KORAIL HRD System
Figure4:  New Employee Training System
Table 1:  KORAIL Six-Phase Study Model
Photo:  Dormitory (Sudeok-Gwan) located in Human Resources Development Center, Uiwang City (Author)

HRD System and Study Model

The key rule is emphasizing individual ability to cultivate personnel who will contribute to managerial effectiveness and help achieve the goals shown in Figure 3.
In specific terms, the Division training system is built around four core fields—general skills, leadership, expertise, and global skills. The training requires employees to examine their own skills and then enhance them. To improve results, KORAIL is researching hands-on learning systems applicable to on-the-job-training (OJT) systems, enabling trainees to learn of their own accord and matching the KORAIL business environment. It focuses on maximizing results by developing and applying study models.

Main Training Programmes

KORAIL employees can easily access a wide range of study programmes. The flagship programmes include a Customer Service Academy to ensure passenger satisfaction, an International Railway Research Center to provide a world leading global railway education, a Leadership Academy to cultivate leaders in each business field, Specialist Training to cultivate the best specialists in marketing, rolling stock, electrics, communications, and facilities, and an ISO certified Train Driving Licence Center to train and license drivers for each type of train. Since train operations can only be safe when all business aspects and systems are fully integrated and are in harmony, absolute priority is given to teaching employees to understand the training and work of other divisions. The contents and processes of some typical training programmes at each division are outlined below.

New Employee Early Potential Programme

New employees start a three-phase training programme involving introductory training, OJT training at their assigned department, and work-field training. Introductory training takes the first 2 weeks after joining the company and involves getting to know the overall working of the system, suggesting creative ideas while visiting key worksites, and acquiring basic business knowledge to ensure that new employees are useful and productive as soon as they are posted to their new assignment. After completing the introductory training, work begins at the worksite for some period, followed by basic training in the applicable work fields. The training goal for new employees is to reach work potential within 6 months of joining KORAIL (Fig. 4).

Result-oriented Creative Leaders Programme for Leading Worksite Administrators

This programme is tailored for stationmasters and chief managers who are most closely involved with worksites. The aim is to teach administrators to share the department goals, motivate employees, and practise devoted and self-initiated leadership that will inspire others, producing the best work environment possible for everyone.
The KORAIL Six-Phase Study Model is used to give employees practical training over 3 months. Moreover, worker coaching is implemented, which gives a sense of unity among the workforce, to build a leading team capable of delivering the best results (Table 1).

Result-oriented Leaders Programme to Cultivate Robust Entrepreneurs

This programme is designed to develop leaders who understand the KORAIL management environment and can plan strategies, push the organization forward in one direction, and enhance team results.
The KORAIL Six-Phase Study Model is used to give practical training that delivers 2-week results over 3 months. In this challenging programme, the trainee team creates a practical project with team goals and assignments to attain. The team has to reach all the goals and assignments one-by-one, establishing a team sense of mission and vision (Fig. 5). Beyond these programmes, KORAIL also has the leadership pipelines described below; leadership is divided into three types with training programmes offered for each role (Fig. 6).
Figure 5:  Strategy-oriented Leader Course Process
Figure 6:
 Roles and Training Programmes for Different Types of Leaders

Marketing Frontier Programme for Guidance in Railway Marketing

To develop the necessary skills, KORAIL offers various programmes in marketing, such as the Stationmaster, Marketing Policy, and Logistics Innovation programmes. Additionally, a Marketing Frontier Programme offers training on a par with that for domestic tourist guides; people in charge of marketing can enhance their skills related to tourist products to plan and retail the best products possible. Employees are given substantial on-site training using assignments such as research into railway tourism case studies, practical study of tourist guiding, on-site studies of tourism development spots, and strategy workshops focusing on ways to attract tourists.
Naturally, this is geared to enhancing market knowledge and problem-solving skills, but it is also geared to polishing data gathering and analysis skills as well as fostering the ability to plan products strategically, so the training team can stand at the marketing frontier to keep abreast of market and customer trends. This greatly contributes to better team marketing results.

KTX Driver Training Programme—The Dream of Every Train Driver

In the driving field, there are various programmes for new and veteran drivers, including programmes on railway installations, electric trains, diesel trains and high-speed trains. There are also programmes on maintenance and for dispatchers. The most prestigious programme is the KTX Driver Training Programme for obtaining a licence to drive high-speed KTX trains—KORAIL’s pride and joy. The programme is geared to teaching driving methods and knowledge about train car construction, and features sections on general knowledge about high-speed railway systems, construction and function of high-speed cars, high-speed driving theory, rules and regulations related to high -speed driving, and actions to take in an emergency. The programme is key to achieving safe high-speed punctual driving on an environmentally friendly high-speed railway. In addition, KORAIL also runs programmes in each technology f ield, including an Elect r ic Rai lway Specialist Programme, a Power Transmission Business Specialist Programme, a High-Speed Signal Controlling Programme, a Track Maintenance Specialist Programme, a Building Facilities Programme, and a Top Specialist Train Car Technology Programme.
In the service field, specialist programmes include CS Leader, CS Coach and CS Instructor and KORAIL service specialists to raise the level of passenger satisfaction to that expected for a national railway.
Photo:  Training facilities for track maintenance (Author)
 Signal control training facilities (Author)
Photo:  CS Academy and International Railway Training Center, in charge of customer service education and training of overseas railway workers (Author) (Author)
Figure 7:
 International Railway Expertise Training Programme

International Railway Expertise Programme Leading to Top of World Ladder

To contribute to railway internationalization, in 2008, KORAIL established its International Railway Training Center for transferring Korean railway technology and know-how to the international community. The Center is backed by the International Union of Railways (UIC) and was elected a centre of excellence within the Network of Asian Rail Training Centres. The Center offers four programmes—Advanced Railway Programme, Rolling Stock Programme, International Logistics Programme, and Railway Management Programme. However, this section focuses on the International Railway Expertise Programme using knowledge of internal railway personnel as its foundation. The programme is geared to phased, strategic training of personnel who have been selected as part of the human resource training policy covered by international railway expertise, so they can become versed in global skills that will enable them to promote business overseas. A multi-perspective approach to training is used, making full use of online, offline, and video teleconferencing technologies. The basic programmes consist of a Language Programme, a Project Methodology Programme (PMP) and an International Agreements (FIDIC) Programme to enhance international project administration and contract negotiation skills. In addition, to raise understanding of the overall railway management system, the Center runs a Railway Business Skills Programme and programmes for training in business language, and intercultural training. These latter two programmes are for personnel who excelled in the basic programmes (Fig. 7). In FY2008, more than 50 specialists received training and are now actively involved in promoting overseas business. These programmes are very popular with every worker wanting to get on them, because they fulfill the goal of cultivating personnel with excellent tandem skills in both languages and railways.
Photo:  Auditorium and lecture building of International Railway Training Center (Author)

KORAIL’s Proud Approach to Enhancing Training Quality

To enhance instructors’ skills and get better classroom results, KORAIL participates in the HRD Forum, and implements an HRD Specialist Programme, a Programme Developer Programme and various other activities, including model lectures, rehearsal lectures, research lectures, and keynote specialist lectures.
KORAIL also runs a Training Programme Evaluation Committee to galvanize quality control for training programmes. An Instructor Database of external specialist instructors is being built by promoting an honorary instructor system for people who have switched from other occupations to railway careers, dissatisfied customers, and train passengers. Through such action, the government has certified KORAIL as a Best Human Resource Development organization. In addition, KORAIL has gained ISO9001- certification in the driving field, and opened the International Railway Training Center backed by UIC as an official training organization (Fig. 8).
Figure 8:  KORAIL HRD Achievements
Figure 9:
 Cutting-edge Training Infrastructure

Trainee Primary Training Infrastructure

KORAIL uses cutting-edge training infrastructure. For example, in driver licence training, the Division uses virtual reality simulators and CAI equipment. The infrastructure also includes the KTX-II simulator for drivers to sharpen and adapt their skills. The Cyber Academy enables training anytime, anywhere so all KORAIL employees across the country can receive standard lessons with a consistent service system providing self-development courses and externally commissioned training.
The e-HRD System is an HRD service system to link HRD with HRM, bringing efficiency to business areas such as drawing-up training plans, developing programmes, and training management. Figure 9 shows the details of the training infrastructure that paves the way for the preeminence of KORAIL’s HRD.
Photo:  KTX Simulator control console (Author)
 Diesel train simulator (Author)
Photo:  Electric train simulator (Author)
 Driving cab of KTX simulator (Author)

Future Issues Faced by HRD

Due to the global financial crisis, HRD must—more than ever—use workplace learning to help drive on-site success. Programmes that do not provide results or that are deemed unnecessary by controllers and trainees are phased out. Until now, programmes have prioritized the supply side, but the format is being changed to prioritize trainees, who are—after all—customers. Furthermore, the training theatre has to be shifted to the worksite and just-in-time learning with real-time feedback is needed.
Even in leadership training, actual problems at the worksite must be unearthed, and the programme revised to execute necessary assignments on site. In addition, importance must be given to inter-personnel relations, career record and work, and health and free time—in other words, harmonizing work and life.
As a key area this year, the e-HRD system will be used to convert from supply-side-driven to trainee-side-driven development for next fiscal year. My vision is for training facilities to provide customized training programmes meeting individual needs, as if bidding for a place on a programme.

Kim Hyungsik
Mr Kim is Director of the Human Resource Development Team at KORAIL. Prior to his current position, he was a Change Management Officer of ERP at Samsung SDS. He received his MBA degree from Yonsei University in 2000.