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iRail ‘opened my eyes to the rail industry’

Students and rail industry professionals are gearing up for iRail in Derby next month.

Among those attending are Derby College Rail Engineering students, who will be taking part in skills competitions and careers workshops at the event on Tuesday March 12 at Derby Roundhouse.

The event brings together top industry figureheads and young people interested in careers in rail.

The Roundhouse is also the base for Derby College’s two-year BTEC Extended Diploma in Rail Engineering, developed with NSARE. The college says it is the first in the UK to launch a full-time course geared specifically towards careers in the rail industry.

The first group of learners are halfway through their first year of the level three course.

Among the college’s first rail engineering students is Conner Wilmot, 18, who attended a previous iRail event and now has his sights set on a career in the rail industry. He said: “After I left school, I came to Derby College to do a Performing Engineering Operations course and decided to progress onto this Extended Diploma.  I went to iRail a couple of years ago and it really opened my eyes to all the different job opportunities that there are in this industry.

“This is a growing industry and I hope that this course will improve my chances of getting an apprenticeship to start at the bottom and develop my career.”

Fellow student Thomas Surrell, 16, was encouraged to join the course by members of his family who work in track maintenance. He said: “I know that this is a good industry to get into and Derby is at the heart of the railways so I hope to work locally and then have opportunities to also work abroad as my career develops.  There is a lot of information available about job opportunities but, unless you know about the railways, it is not necessarily something that you would think about when you are at school.”

Kurt Matkin, 17, said: “I love trains and started looking on websites about the job opportunities and training courses so I was really pleased when I heard about this course at college.”

Scott Ross, 20, believes that gaining relevant qualifications are the best way of pursuing a career in the rail industry, and said: “I came to college and then left after my first year as I got a job at Bombardier. I was unfortunately made redundant so am determined to get industry-related qualifications this time and plan to go on to do higher education after this course. Jobs are hard to come by and there is a lot of competition so it’s important to have the right qualifications to give you a head start.”

Mark Broadhurst, 18, said: “There is so much in the news at the moment about the investment that is going in high speed tracks that I hope that this will translate into more jobs and opportunities for young people in the rail industry.”

Derby College engineering team manager Karen Gallagher said: “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 are making in the early stages of their course.

“We are particularly delighted to be involved in iRail again this year which is such an important event to highlight the career opportunities in the rail industry to young people both at college and the schools that attend the event.

“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, working with TQ Catalis, career development training programmes and events such as iRail are therefore crucial to ensure that young people seriously consider their career paths in this industry.”

For more on iRail 2013 see our story here, or visit: and

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