Rail Industry Focus


Derby College prepares students for rail careers

Source: Rail Technology Magazine Oct/Nov 2013

Derby College chief executive Mandie Stravino outlines the impact that Derby College is having on future skills in the rail industry.

Derby has a rich railway history and the industry continues to be a major employer in the city.

As a college, we have a clear responsibility to ensure that young people have the skills to make them ready for the world of work and to support businesses with a skilled workforce.

We therefore consult widely with businesses in the rail and industry sectors about the skills that they need both now and in the future, and develop the curriculum accordingly; whether that is full-time courses such as our BTEC Rail Engineering programme, or higher management qualifications to support the development of tomorrow’s business leaders.

Work-based training

Derby College has excellent links with companies in the rail industry through our work-based training programmes, apprenticeships and through our Engineering Career Academy which provides industry mentors and internship opportunities for students.

The college was the first in the country to launch the two-year BTEC Extended Diploma in Rail Engineering in partnership with the National Skills Academy for Railway Engineering (NSARE).

This programme has been designed to give learners an understanding of railway signalling systems and related sector-specific engineering functions. The development of the Extended Diploma in Rail Engineering was a natural progression for the college and we are delighted with the progress that the first students have made in their course.

At the Roundhouse

It is particularly appropriate that the course is based at the Roundhouse – Derby College’s flagship £48m vocational campus whose centerpiece is the world’s oldest roundhouse.

This was the central building of the city’s loco works from the 19th century until the 1980s.

We have also been working closely with TQ Catalis, who have provided the facilities at their specialist rail training centre on London Road to enable the students to enhance their skills.

Furthermore, the college is supporting companies such as Bombardier and, more recently, East Midlands Trains.

EMT has taken on their first group of apprentices this year – providing day release and work-based support. And we continue to work with companies such Interfleet Technology to enhance their graduate staff’s hands-on practical skills.

Raising rail’s profile

Although Derby has had a long association with the rail industry, there is a still a great deal of work that needs to be done collectively to raise the profile amongst young people of the wide range of careers available.

Initiatives such as sector specific courses, Career Academies and wider apprenticeship programmes, with input from businesses in the development of curriculum and work-based programmes are therefore crucial to ensure that young people seriously consider their career paths in this industry.

College to career

Derby College Engineering student Callum Hall (19) from Mackworth has clinched an apprenticeship with Derby-based international rail consultancy Interfleet Technology.

Callum, a former pupil at Murray Park Community School, who was also a member of the Engineering Career Academy at the College, is benefiting from work experience, paid internships, guru lectures and industry mentors to increase his employability and skills.

He said: “Having done work experience at Interfleet Technology through the Career Academy, I learnt about the apprenticeship and was really pleased when I was successful.

“I will now be coming back to Derby College to complete my Foundation Degree and then go on to university to gain the full bachelor’s degree and hopefully even my masters.

“This is a great opportunity and I am particularly pleased that Interfleet are keen for me to continue my studies. A job with this company will give me loads of opportunities and even the chance to travel the world.”

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