Reaching your full potential

Source: RTM April/May 2018

Bill Kelly, acting route managing director for Network Rail in Wales and Borders, discusses the successes of the country’s well-established apprenticeship scheme.

Apprentices are the future of Network Rail, which is why we invest so much in them. And as we look ahead to our plans for 2019 and beyond, it’s a really exciting time to join Network Rail in Wales and Borders. The work we do to keep the railway running is so important for millions of people across the country. A safe, reliable railway means families and friends can visit each other, commuters can get to work and keep industries running, and patients can get to hospital appointments. Our apprenticeship scheme offers the chance to get involved.

Transforming the railway network means more than just getting an education. Over three fascinating, surprising, career-advancing years as an apprentice, people will gain the kind of skills that can set them up for life.

Every year there are over 29 million rail journeys in Wales and Borders, with passenger numbers increasing. Network Rail is investing in the railway to keep people moving, delivering significant projects such as major signalling renewal schemes and the modernisation of the South Wales Main Line to Cardiff. The recruitment of talented apprentices will play a big part in making this happen and maintaining the future modernised railway.

We continue to champion early engagement in education, innovation and diversity, working with key stakeholders across Wales and Borders to develop talented people for the future, within the communities they serve.

Our plans have a continued focus on early engagement, utilising our STEM ambassadors to improve our apprenticeship uptake, introducing pre-apprenticeships and widening accessibility for all.

Our well-established apprenticeship scheme has been running since 2005, with over 2,000 apprentices trained across the UK to date. Apprentices have the opportunity to ‘earn while they learn,’ gaining valuable work experience, transferable skills and recognised qualifications along the way.

About the scheme

The first 21 weeks of the scheme are spent living and learning at Network Rail’s state-of-the-art training centre in the Midlands. Apprentices then spend the rest of the scheme working from a depot close to home, specialising in disciplines such as electrification, signalling, telecoms and track.

With dedicated support, apprentices can also study for further qualifications and gain chartered membership of a professional engineering institute.

Apprentices are guaranteed a job upon completion of the three-year course, and more than four in five of those who started on the scheme a decade ago are still working for Network Rail today.

The scheme also has a far higher retention rate than the national average for engineering. In total, 75% of those that complete the scheme choose to go into employment with Network Rail, compared to the national average for engineering of 55%.

Network Rail’s aim is to be one of Britain’s best employers by attracting, developing and retaining great people. We also aspire to create an environment within the route that will allow everybody to reach their full potential and support our commitment to creating a more diverse and inclusive railway. Our advanced apprenticeship scheme is the ideal platform for this. We aspire to have an engaged, motivated workforce passionate about the service they deliver, and we would encourage anyone who fits the bill for this to apply.

The 1,600 people working for Wales and Borders are our greatest asset and central to delivering a safe and reliable railway for our customers and stakeholders every day. Joining this team gives apprentices expert training, hands-on experience and a lifetime of engineering possibilities. During the ‘Year of the Engineer,’ there is no better time to join.


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