Apprentices from Network Rail’s Thameslink Programme inspire young people to consider an apprenticeship on the railway.(Network Rail)

Apprentices from Network Rail's Thameslink Programme inspire young people to consider an apprenticeship on the railway

Thameslink apprentice at Walworth.(Network Rail Image)

A team of apprentices, work experience students and engineers from Network Rail’s Thameslink Programme are celebrating National Apprenticeship Week 2017 by visiting schools local to London Bridge station to inspire young people to consider an apprenticeship on the railway.

Since 2012, the Thameslink Programme has benefited from 89 apprentices working across Network Rail and delivery partners Costain, Balfour Beatty Rail and Siemens Rail Automation. The apprentices, many of whom have gained experience on the London Bridge redevelopment project, have increased their skills on track and off, working across both the front-line railway and commercial side of the business.

Network Rail’s apprenticeship scheme also has a far higher retention rate than the national average for engineering. 75% of those that complete the scheme choose to go into employment with Network Rail, compared to the national average for engineering of 55%.

On Monday 6 March, the team visited Octavia House, a specialist therapeutic school that provides innovative educational provision for pupils with social, emotional and mental health difficulties, to deliver a presentation and workshop on the role of an apprentice to a group of 15 and 16 year olds. The team also presented to a group of 180 students at the Walworth Academy, where Thameslink apprentices and work experience students from Costain shared their journeys and experiences, with the aim of inspiring the students to consider an apprenticeship on the railway.

Annamarie Compton, Network Rail consents manager, London Bridge station, said:

“The London Bridge station redevelopment project is proud to be involved in the 2017 National Apprenticeship Week and we hope to build on the successes of our well-received 2016 programme. What makes our programme work so well is the continued support of our own apprentices, many of whom have been employed from the local area, who are taking the time to participate in a number of school visits and site activities to share their journeys and to display the skills they have learned. The students respond really well to the apprentices, who do a great job of promoting the range of exciting opportunities an apprenticeship with Network Rail can bring.”

Amy Nott, training skills co-ordinator, Costain, said:

“We have a fantastic team of apprentices who are always ready to help inspire the next generation. The students they meet tend to respond very well and their interaction offers a positive experience and insight into apprenticeships on the railway. This year we’ve another fantastic week long programme of events and we hope to reach more students than ever before”.

Isaac Jones, commercial apprentice, Network Rail, said:

“The best thing about being an apprentice is that I am studying and gaining experience, all while earning a salary. My Network Rail apprenticeship has a lot of variety; I get to work across the business and learn on site. I would definitely recommend an apprenticeship at Network Rail and on the railway to other young people who are considering their options.”

The Thameslink Programme, part of Network Rail’s Railway Upgrade Plan, is transforming north-south travel through London by modernising landmark stations, introducing new, longer trains and increasing journey options for the millions of passengers that use one of the busiest stretches of railway each year.

Many of the Thameslink apprentices will have worked on the rebuilding of London Bridge station, which is in its third and final phase, with the last part of the redevelopment due to open to the public in early 2018. Network Rail apprentices are guaranteed a job upon completion of the three-year course and more than four in five (83%) of those who started in the scheme a decade ago are still working for the organisation today.