More Rail apprentices needed for Western Electrification

Network Rail is boosting its talent pool of electrical engineering technicians to support the electrification of the Great Western main line by recruiting an additional 18 apprentices to be based in Bristol, Didcot and Reading.

Young people from across south west and the Thames Valley who are interested in a career in electrical engineering are urged to consider applying for the company’s advanced apprenticeship scheme for 2012. Their skills will play a vital role in one of the most exciting railway projects in Britain

Patrick Hallgate, route managing director at Network Rail, said: “We have big plans to significantly transform the Western route to become one of the most advanced in Britain. We need more talented and ambitious young people to join us and be part of a 1,300 strong team in the area and help millions of people get to their destinations safely and reliably.

“Beyond their apprenticeships, employees have the opportunity to undertake a higher national certificate, a foundation degree and then a full degree in engineering. They can earn while they learn and go as far as their aptitude, attitude and ambition can take them.”

Network Rail is also keen to attract more women to apply for the scheme. Rachel McDonnell, 22, is a technical officer based at the Swindon maintenance depot. She said: “After I left school I started applying for apprenticeships as I had always been interested in engineering and this seemed the best way to gain the skills that I needed. My neighbour recommended the Network Rail scheme and here I learned both new skills and improve on old ones from my car mechanics course.

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“I have made some amazing friends who I still see on a regular basis and would recommend the scheme to anyone as it helped me to find myself. I had a great time working out on track and the gang I was placed with could not have been nicer to me. The team leader constantly helped me whenever I was struggling and I am still grateful for all the support he gave me.”

Former apprentice now maintenance team leader in Rugby, Camilla Banner, 24, is studying for the HNC in Engineering through Network Rail. she said: “At school it was as if there were only two options – do A levels or go to college and then onto university, but I didn’t really want to do either, particularly if I was going to get into a huge amount of debt. An apprenticeship appealed so much more and earning whilst learning was a real motivation.

“The HNC has been great and I want to go further and do the foundation degree and a degree in engineering – I don’t want to stop here. I get asked if I had to go back would I change what’s happened, and I say no – I’d definitely do the apprenticeship again.”

Applications are now open and applicants can visit a new Facebook page www.facebook.com/ontrack with videos, profiles and content managed by current apprentices who can respond directly to any enquiries and showcase the opportunities on offer.

The apprentices will spend a year training alongside the Royal Navy at Europe’s largest engineering training facility at HMS Sultan in Hampshire. Here they will learn both the technical skills required to work on the railway and develop leadership and teamwork behaviours, which will make them more effective in their roles.

During that training, there could also be opportunities to work on site for a week to gain practical experience. They will then continue their training for two further years on-the-job at depots across Wales before returning to HMS Sultan for additional courses.