Developing apprentices in the rail industry

In recent weeks, it has been announced that passenger journeys on UK railways is at a record high. A report published by the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) shows that there were 407.7 million passenger journeys between July 2014 and September 2014 – an increase of 4.4% from the same time period in 2013, and the largest number of passenger journeys recorded in a single quarter since the data was first collated in 2002.

For the UK rail industry, this is terrific news – higher passenger numbers increases the demand for new project investments. But does the industry have the skills to cope with an increased future project workload?

The answer is currently no, according to recent keynote speeches delivered by Professor Simon Iwnicki, chair of the IMechE Railway Division.  Professor Iwnicki noted that future demand will outstrip supply, with only one railway engineering course available to study in UK universities.

According to Iwnicki, the perception of working in the rail industry also needs to change in order to attract young talent, stating “too much of the advertising is still people (almost always men) wearing orange PPE holding spanners – which is not necessarily the best way to inspire young people into the industry. “

With so few university courses available, apprenticeships remain important when attracting young talent into the rail industry. For rail recruitment companies like Primat, this means working closely with apprentice providers to develop the right talent into the industry.

Alongside ARC Academy, a provider of railway and construction apprenticeships in the UK, Primat has recently supplied 10 apprentices to work as skilled trackmen on two major rail blockades for our client, Colas Rail. A blockade involves the shutdown of the railway line, requiring quick turnaround of maintenance work in a short time period.

Through being registered with ARC Academy, each apprentice received significant training, combining educational qualifications with 13 weeks of work experience on the railways. This is in addition to being track inducted, a 10 day course allowing them to work in the rail industry, and having small tools tickets allowing them to use rail-specific tools.

Anthony Richardson, Director at ARC Academy has also been pleased with the development of the apprentices:

 Since joining Primat our apprentices have developed and matured in many ways. All they were looking for was a chance to prove their track knowledge and skills. They have been given a golden opportunity to forge a career path in the industry. It’s all down to the hard work of the first intake of apprentices and the support of Primat that the chance has come for others to follow on and have the opportunity to work in this ever growing sector. Who knows these 18 year olds might even be the next managers and engineers of the future.  ARC will follow their careers with great interest.

Primat is continuing to work with ARC Academy, with an additional 20 apprentices registered in England and Wales in the last two months.

Are you an apprentice looking to work in the rail industry? Please register your interest for future opportunities, by calling us on 0845 060 5599

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