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Scheme to create 30,000 rail and road apprenticeships

The government is pledging to create 30,000 new apprenticeships in the rail and road sectors by the end of this Parliament.

The scheme, announced by transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin MP this morning, will be backed by by Crossrail’s chair, Terry Morgan.

McLoughlin said: "Training our rail and road workforce is essential if we want to build a transport network fit for the future.

"I want to see every part of Britain benefiting from a growing economy and that is why our investment in transport won’t just help people get around, it will help them get on."

He also commented on Morgan's appointment, saying he has "a track record of building skills in the transport sector".

"He is ideally positioned to work with industry to deliver a transport and infrastructure skills strategy," he added.

Morgan will be responsible for leading the development a transport and infrastructure skills strategy "to help the transport industry ensure a continuous pipeline of skilled workers".

He said he is "very much looking forward" for the project and added: "It’s vital that we develop the workforce of the future, ensuring the transport industry has the right people in the right place at the right time, and crucially with the right skills, to deliver this unprecedented programme of infrastructure work."

As a result of the new measure, the rail engineering advance technician apprenticeship standard, backed by the National Skills Academy Railway Engineering (NSARE), has been given the green light.

The apprenticeship covers construction, maintenance and renewal across seven pathways as part of the advanced technician level standard, equivalent to level 4 education.

The pathways themselves cover track, overhead lines, electrification, signalling, telecoms, traction and rolling stock and rail systems.

Skills minister, Nick Boles, said: “Businesses are better placed than anyone to train the next generation of workers and will help us deliver 3 million high quality apprenticeships by 2020. By designing apprenticeships, organisations like the NSARE and their group of employers are ensuring that young talented people develop the skills needed to progress up the career ladder and help drive businesses forward.”

Neil Robertson, chief executive for NSARE, added: “There are skills shortages, now and forecast across the rail industry as a result of new infrastructure, electrification and renewal programmes combined with an ageing workforce.

“The introduction of new technology is driving a requirement of higher level skills across all engineering disciplines. The advanced technician apprenticeships will provide a route to address these challenges for the industry whilst providing great career opportunities for those with A level or equivalent prior learning. It is an important step in the rail industry ‘apprenticeship to fellowship’ career paths.”

The scheme is part of a wider government pledge to “radically boost apprenticeship numbers and drive up quality of courses” across all sectors in England.

The pledge, backed by prime minister David Cameron, will give businesses a say on how the apprenticeships are run and what they offer.

Employers will also be asked today for their views on a new apprenticeship levy, set to be introduced in 2017, to increase investment in training and make sure it meets their needs.

Employers who put in funds towards training will have “direct spending power over it”.

Cameron also pledge to take a company’s apprenticeship offer into account when awarding large government contracts, as well as publishing new ‘industry standards’ to ensure apprentices have the particular skills companies need.

The “radical changes” to boost apprenticeships seek to build on the 2.3 million places created under the last government to “make sure that young people have the skills and expertise that employers demand”.

(Top image: Network Rail apprentices)


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