One year on for trailblazing rail apprentices.(London Midland)

Neil Bamford, London Midland, the four apprentices and Dan Walker, NTAR.(London Midland Image)

The first cohort of participants on an industry-leading rail apprenticeship scheme have just completed their first year of training. The four students, all based at the National Training Academy for Rail (NTAR) in Northampton, have been participating in a specialist programme set up by London Midland, NTAR and BMet College.

As the first of its kind in the UK, the programme was created with the aim of setting a new standard for engineering and tackling the serious skills gap which is affecting the sector. The four-year programme will see the apprentices learning fundamental rail engineering skills, putting them in a strong position for future employment.

In a showcase day at NTAR organised by London Midland, the apprentices reported back on their first year of training, demonstrating the skills acquired and discussing their experiences during the first year. Alongside the presentations, the apprentices and NTAR staff gave tours around the state-of-the-art training facilities and neighbouring Kings Heath depot, where London Midland’s long-distance Class 350 fleet is maintained.

The apprentices will be working towards the Rail Engineering Technician Apprenticeship Standard (Level 3), which has been developed over the last three years by employers within the industry, including Siemens and Network Rail.

Over the course of the programme, apprentices learn engineering fundamentals in a range of modules. These range from engineering hand skills and air conditioning systems maintenance to electrical principles and project management. Upon completion, learners will gain industry-specific Level 3 knowledge and competence qualifications.

Neil Bamford, assets and maintenance director at London Midland, said:

“We are extremely fortunate to have the NTAR facility here in Northampton, located between our two busiest markets, London and Birmingham.

“This is a truly exciting time for young people to be joining the rail industry and it is excellent to see how far our apprentices have come in the space of a year. There is a global demand for these types of specialist rail engineering skills; new railways are being built and old ones are being reborn.”

Dan Walker, head of apprenticeship delivery at NTAR, added:

“London Midland is an early adopter of the Rail Engineering Standard. The programme it has developed with BMet and NTAR is progressive and industry-leading, and really reflects the business’ commitment to developing the next generation of rail talent. We’re proud to be a part of it.”

After the summer holidays, the apprentices will return to work, splitting their time between activities at NTAR and college.