Management focus signals change for Network Rail graduate scheme

You don’t need to be an engineer to join Network Rail’s graduate programme, and the company is urging smart, business-focused young people to grab one of 40 places on this year’s general management scheme. In total, there are more than 100 places available in finance, information management, property, strategic planning, contracts and procurement, project management and, of course, engineering.

The company is also highlighting the opportunities for mechanical and electrical engineering graduates with Network Rail’s 2,000 strong fleet of on-track vehicles and plant. These vehicles provide business critical infrastructure support from delivering rail and ballast to measuring the track and assisting in maintenance and renewals with the business continually looking at how to improve the design and installation of technology and next generation road-rail vehicles.

For the first time, Network Rail will take on students for sandwich placements across the business. It will seek 16 general management and engineering undergraduates to join the company for a year in a paid placement after they have completed their second year of their degree course. This is in addition to the six placements we already offer in information management.

Adrian Thomas, head of resourcing for Network Rail explains why there has been a shake up of the graduate programme this year: “This is a growing sector which means we need more bright, commercially-focused people to help us deliver the massive programme of investment we have promised the British public. Ever-closer working with train and freight operators also means we can offer broader, more integrated schemes. Graduates joining us will have a host of opportunities and career challenges.

“Where I think we’ll see a real win-win is the introduction of sandwich placements across the business. For undergraduates getting that real commercial experience is invaluable to demonstrate your worth to potential employers, and for us we can showcase the rail sector as a great place to work, so hopefully we can attract more good people to join us.”

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Liam Day, a 25-year-old journalism graduate from Leicestershire, has just completed the general management scheme and is now working in the company’s freight division. He said: “My graduate year has been fantastic. I was given the scope to follow my interests and seek out rewarding experiences. I’ve visited many different departments from train planning to frontline operations; I’ve learned how to signal trains at Network Rail’s state of the art training centre in Leeds; and manage d our relationship with the UK’s biggest rail freight operator during a customer manager secondment. I also got to work at St Pancras station during the Olympics providing spectators with travel information. The rail industry gets under your skin and you soon become absorbed by the scale and diversity of the industry.”

Roger Brent, a 24-year-old music graduate from Mold in North Wales has also just completed the scheme and is considering a role as a mobile operations manager or in the level crossings team. He said: “The operations graduate scheme has given me opportunities to gain experience right across the industry with the most interesting opportunity attending signalling school where I got to go through the same process as a signaller would when they join the company. It definitely helped improve my understanding of how the railway works. I also got the chance to work as a travel champions in various London stations during the Olympics, which was fantastic to be part of something special. With so many different career paths available, the operations graduate scheme is an ideal entry point into management and the industry,”