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HomeNewsNew Rail Engineering Apprenticeships launched and ready for delivery

New Rail Engineering Apprenticeships launched and ready for delivery


Rail Minister, Claire Perry has today (19 May 2016) welcomed the launch of new Apprenticeship Standards for Rail Engineering. These exciting apprenticeships are “ready for delivery” and employers will be recruiting soon. This is an unprecedented opportunity for young people to join a vibrant industry that pays well and offers excellent career prospects.

The National Skills Academy Rail

The National Skills Academy for Rail (NSAR) has supported a consortium of major Rail Engineering Employers in developing the new Apprenticeship Standards. Forming part of the governments trailblazer apprenticeship initiative, the new rail apprenticeships focus on high quality, employer driven skills. The aim is to provide young people with the skills, knowledge and outlook needed to make their mark in rail careers from day one.

Claire Perry, Rail Minister said: “I congratulate the rail industry for putting together a very high quality suite of rail engineering apprenticeships. The hard work from employers and The National Skills Academy for Rail to develop them will create brand new exciting pathways into the many highly skilled and highly paid jobs in rail. We will be recruiting tens of thousands of women and men into these roles in the coming months and years. Our commitment to supporting this is set out in Transport and Infrastructure Skills Strategy Report. Passengers will benefit form even greater skills in the rail workforce.”

NSAR’s skills forecasting shows that the UK rail workforce is ageing, yet there is a need for around 20.000 new recruits in the next five years to meet skills demands. The combination of skills shortages and new investment means there is an urgent need to open up new and inspiring routes into rail careers. The new apprenticeships have been developed with this goal in mind by leading employers of rail professionals including VolkerRail, Alstom, Amey, Babcock, Carillion, DB Schenker, Siemens, MGB Engineering, HS2, TfL, Northern Rail and Network Rail.

Neil Robertson, NSAR’s CEO said: “These apprenticeships will equip young people with high-level skills in problem solving, analytical thinking, and communication, in addition to valuable technical skills. The apprenticeship will provide a solid new entry route into specialist areas that are of critical importance to the whole economy. The fact that employers have led the design and development of these new apprenticeships will give organisations the confidence to recruit new talent through apprenticeships"

Taking the opportunity to make the existing rail apprenticeships more flexible and focussed, the employers identified that to address future business needs, skills shortages, embrace the scale of technological and operational change faced by the industry, they require future apprentices to be:

  • Higher skilled and multi-skilled, providing more role agility & flexibility
  • Able to take a more proactive/preventative approach with more emphasis on systems thinking and diagnostics
  • Aware of wider rail strategy and how their role fits within it
  • A mix between those who wish to start at Technician level and potentially progress and those who wish to start and remain at Operative level.

The Employers Group, chaired by Michelle Nolan-McSweeney of Network Rail, has developed three new Rail Engineering Apprenticeship Standards, which have been approved by the SFA and Government. They are Rail Engineering Operative, Technician and Advanced Technician at Levels 2, 3, and 4 respectively. They are all based on the same model of 7 pathways (6 at operative level) each including core and subject specialist knowledge and skills. They will be underpinned by the behaviours set out in the standards. Rail Engineering Apprenticeship Standards at levels 2,3 and 4 covers maintenance, renewal and construction across electrification, overhead Lines, signalling, telecommunications, track traction and rolling stock and Rrail systems.

Michelle Nolan-McSweeney, apprentice development manager, Network Rail said: “It has been a real privilege to Chair the Rail Engineering Trailblazer Group; the standards we have developed demonstrate how employers can come together to address the skills challenges collaboratively, not only helping to increase the range of apprenticeships on offer, but also involving a wide network of professional bodies, educators and providers to deliver world class training”.

Simon Kirby, Chief Executive of HS2 said: “Being an apprentice was a great opportunity for me to pursue a vocational education and gain experience in the workplace, whilst learning at the same time. I used my apprenticeship as a springboard for my career.  It also equipped me with invaluable people skills that I've used in all aspects of my job.

As the chair of STAT, which will support the government's ambition to treble the number of apprenticeships in the transport sector by 2020, it's great to see these new apprenticeships in place. They will be starting points for great careers for young women and men. Many of us started in a similar place and we are now looking for the next generation of rail leaders."

Forming part of the government’s Trailblazer apprenticeship initiative, the new rail apprenticeships focus on high quality, employer driven and relevance of learning. The aim is to provide young people with the skills, knowledge and outlook needed to make their mark in rail careers from day one.