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‘Stigma against apprenticeships must end,’ says Network Rail boss

The stigma against apprenticeships must end, Mark Carne said as Network Rail seeks to recruit new apprentices for its schemes.

A Network Rail survey of advanced apprenticeship scheme graduates last year found that many had been able to achieve life goals thanks to the scheme. 52% were the first among their friends to buy a house, 71% were the first in their friendship group to be promoted, 43% feel they are on track for a senior management position and 69% say they are in a role where they are making a difference.

Network Rail is now seeking to recruit 150 apprentices to the three-year scheme, which includes track, signals, signal design, telecoms and electrification and plant engineering programmes, in order to carry out its £40bn Rail Upgrade Plan.

Mark Carne, Network’s Rail’s chief executive, said: “Our graduated apprentices are living proof that there should be no stigma associated with apprenticeships, and that with the right attitude and work ethic, you can reap the rewards alongside those who have chosen a university route.

“In fact, many of our apprentices have gone on to gain higher qualifications, including degrees, through our education programme. I would urge employers, teachers and parents to join forces to educate young people about the fantastic benefits that an apprenticeship can offer, both in a personal and professional capacity.”

The apprenticeship scheme is open to applications who will be aged 18 or over by 1 October 2016 and offers the opportunity to gain NVQ, BTec and ILM qualifications.

Benefits include 28 days holiday every year, some paid and discounted travel, a pension and free food and accommodation during a residential stay in the first year.

Jay Williams, 24, who joined the advanced apprenticeship scheme in 2008 and now works as an asset engineer in Swindon, said: “I didn’t have the easiest start in life, but joining the scheme gave me the opportunity to turn my life around. I’ve worked hard, and in the space of seven years I’ve gone from being homeless to owning my own home.”

In 2014 Network Rail apprentice Stephen Kelly was a finalist at RTM’s Gen Y rail initiative and talked to RTM about his experiences on the scheme.

Network Rail and the Department for Transport have set a target of making 2.5% of the workforce on major transport projects apprentices.

The latest edition of RTM features an interview with Alasdair Waddell, resourcing attraction manager at Network Rail, on Network Rail’s plans to increase recruitment, including recruiting more women and people from ethnic minorities.


JFGB   11/03/2016 at 13:11

I wasn't aware that there ever was a 'stigma' associated with apprenticeships. As a former Student Engineering Apprentice myself, I can vouch for the value of the training being second to none in preparation for a lifetime's enjoyable career in the railway engineering profession. So much so that I am loath to retire from it!

Wise Engineer   11/03/2016 at 14:50

The 'stigma' appears to be in the minds of the poorly educated university graduates of the past 30 years. Otherwise known as the 'entitled generation'. An apprenticeship demonstrates you can 'do' as well as 'learn'. NR needs doers that deliver. I wish Mr Carney would use his Professional Post Nominals, CEng FIMechE, to raise the standing of Engineering in his organisation. Gives the younger generation something to aspire to, and as mine, is achievable the long way.

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