There are around 240 places available on the national 2013 Network Rail advanced apprenticeship scheme, with 13 roles in the Anglia route in Ipswich, Romford, Ely and east London. Network Rail wants educators and young people alike to realise the future career opportunities that an apprenticeship can bring, including a university education at work.
“There are many paths to achieve a successful career,” said Dave Ward, Network Rail route managing director for the south east. “Whether you join straight from school or after college or work, the apprenticeship programme can be the first step to a challenging career.
“An apprenticeship can also open doors to a university education. While many apprentices go on to be team leaders and rise through the ranks, Network Rail also helps those who want to achieve further qualifications the chance to study part-time for a Higher National Certificate in engineering and then onto a foundation degree and a bachelors at Sheffield Hallam University.”
Third year apprentice, Luke Boggis, 21, who works at Ipswich and specialises in track, said: “The experience I have gained from the teams at Ipswich has been immense and you can sense the effort and determination that goes into an everyday safety-critical environment. The past 18 months have seen me develop confidence, professionalism and respect for the people who pass on their knowledge, some of which is invaluable. I am now striving towards earning a role where I can improve my learning at a higher level undertaking university provided by Network Rail.”
Aaron Gould, also a third year apprentice, works in Norwich and specialises in telecoms. The 22-year-old said: “Since being on the course, I have learnt to stand on my own two feet. Along with this I have worked towards gaining a leadership qualification which will help me no end, as well as numerous BTEC and NVQ qualifications. The more you put in to the scheme, the more you get out. So I would urge anyone who is successful to really give it their all! You will be rewarded, and it gives you a great sense of achievement.”
Network Rail apprentices spend a year training alongside the Royal Navy at Europe’s largest engineering training facility at HMS Sultan in Hampshire. There they learn both the technical skills required to work on the railway and develop leadership and teamwork behaviours to make them more effective in their roles. For the next two years they learn their trade, working within an experienced team, continuing to return to HMS Sultan regularly for additional courses and training.
Mr Ward added: “We need a highly skilled workforce to meet the challenges of a busier network and focus on improving performance and increasing capacity. It makes absolute sense for us to develop the talent we have coming through our apprenticeship scheme to complement our experienced engineers. This pipeline of talent development will help us retain and attract more quality people, which will help us meet the tough challenges ahead to deliver a better value railway for the east of England.”