The Sleeper's Blog

18.11.16

Jobs and skills boost in London – courtesy of Thameslink

Over 250 jobseekers in London have gained new jobs or skills after getting involved in the Thameslink Programme, the multi-billion pound London railway upgrade which includes the complete rebuilding of London Bridge station by Network Rail.

The programme has helped 91 jobseekers from the surrounding borough of Southwark to find employment with Network Rail and its London Bridge delivery partners, spanning a wide range of roles including engineers, electricians, environmental advisors and personal assistants.

It has also provided 85 jobseekers from the Greater London area with apprenticeships, and helped 12 previously unemployed local residents gain NVQ qualifications – as well as providing career advice to young people at more than 32 events.

Simon Blanchflower, Network Rail’s Thameslink programme director, praised the initiative, saying: “The Thameslink programme will bring huge long-term benefits to passengers across the south east through to London and beyond to Peterborough and Cambridge. As well as improving the railway, we want to improve communities by providing employment and training opportunities for long-term unemployed people.

“Working on projects that include the redevelopment of London Bridge station and the building of a new railway junction in Bermondsey will open up new opportunities to the chosen candidates. Not only will they have a fantastic opportunity to help build a new railway, they will learn some valuable new skills along the way.”

One of the jobseekers who has benefitted from the initiative is Heather Spring, who is now a personal assistant for one of Network Rail’s contractors Balfour Beatty. She was employed by BB in January 2016 after having previously been unemployed following redundancy.

“When I was made redundant, I wasn’t ready to retire and when I saw this opportunity I applied straight away,” she explained. “I have always been interested in the railway and I am really enjoying working on such a huge project that will improve commuters’ journeys immeasurably.”

Cllr Johnson Situ, cabinet member for business, employment and culture at Southwark Council, said that his local authority is “committed to creating a thriving local economy and reducing long-term unemployment”.

He added: “We’ve set ourselves the ambitious target of creating 5,000 jobs and 2,000 apprenticeships of which the Thameslink programme has been an important part. The scheme has helped to upskill local residents through meaningful apprenticeships and supported them into sustainable work.”

Thameslink forms part of Network Rail’s Railway Upgrade Plan and is transforming north-south travel in London. When complete in 2018, it will offer brand new eco-friendly trains, an expanded network with better connections to destinations including Cambridge and Peterborough, and more reliable journeys.

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