Young people in the Thames Valley are being urged to consider becoming an apprentice with Network Rail as the company launches its 2013 advanced apprenticeship scheme.
By far the largest number of recruits Network Rail is seeking is along the Great Western route where millions of pounds are being invested in electrifying the railway over the next few years. A total of 24 places are available on the advanced scheme in Reading and Didcot.
Network Rail’s Western route managing director, Patrick Hallgate, wants parents, 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,” Mr Hallgate said. “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.”
Duncan Whittle, 24, a third year apprentice, who specialises in electrification and plant, said: “An apprenticeship is a brilliant way to gain a qualification and learn a trade with a good mixture of practical experience and academic learning. While searching for engineering apprenticeship schemes, Network Rail jumped out at me. It is a nationally known company that is going through a massive modernisation and expansion period. I believe this is an exciting time to be part of a company such as this and see a bright future within this industry.”
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 Hallgate 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.”