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Sunday, May 19, 2024

York rail apprentices share their experiences this National Apprenticeship Week

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Network Rail apprentices offer their views on this exciting route into rail and encourage others to consider a career in the industry. 

Stephen Petch, 28, and Daniel Davison, 32, are Level 3 Operations apprentices based in Network Rail’s York Rail Operations Centre. They both started last November and are part of the first ever cohort on this brand-new apprenticeship, which replaces the previously offered course. The new scheme provides the apprentices the opportunity to achieve 2 A-Levels rather than 5 GCSEs over a shorter, 18-month period and is the first of its kind in the region. 

Stephen is from Goole and went to university in York. He’s been interested in the railway for as long as he can remember – his grandfather was a signaller and he spent lots of time at the National Railway Museum as a child. He previously worked delivering pharmaceuticals to hospitals, but after lockdown he fancied a change and when the apprenticeship came up, he thought it was the perfect fit. 

Stephen said: “We’ve been getting involved in all aspects of operations and we’re currently working through the second module of signalling school. Other placements will be with mobile operations management, at a station, with control and with a train operating company – so we will be up and down the whole route. 

“I’ve learnt so much about the whole industry and I didn’t realise how big the organisation is. We recently travelled up the Harrogate line with our line manager and it’s so interesting to get out and about. I’ve also just passed my first observation in signalling! 

“Beyond the apprenticeship, I’m open to all opportunities that come my way. At first, I wanted to go into mobile operations management or signalling and I’m still very open to that, but the more I learn about the industry, the more I think about what other doors will open for me.” 

The bespoke programme is designed to provide a much more comprehensive view of operations in comparison to the previous scheme, equipping apprentices with all the skills and knowledge they need to apply to an operational role. They will experience a variety of different placements, including stations, signalling, control, incident response, electrical control, planning, maintenance and with a train operator. Following completion, apprentices will become a member of the Institution of Railway Operators and a qualified signaller, as well as gaining a mobile operations manager competence. 

Daniel, from Tyneside, was previously working in public transport on the bus and coach side. He has spent time driving and as a depot supervisor and felt that there were many transferable skills he could bring with him when making the leap over to rail. 

Daniel said: “The apprenticeship opens so many doors and I’m gaining a wealth of experience through the different placements. My overall goal is to eventually become a train running controller. 

“Everyone sees a train running between A and B, but they don’t realise that there are so many things happening behind the scenes to get the train moving – from signalling, to maintenance, to driving – it’s a real eye-opener. 

“If you’re thinking about applying for an apprenticeship with Network Rail, just do it. The amount of experience you gain will really set you up for a fantastic career.” 

The theme of this year’s National Apprenticeship Week (6 – 12 February) is ‘Skills for Life’, aiming to shine a light on how apprenticeships can help individuals to develop the skills and knowledge required for a rewarding career. The week will also reflect on how apprenticeships help businesses to develop a talented workforce that is equipped with skills for the future. 

Apprenticeship schemes at Network Rail are available in many other disciplines, from engineering to finance and from business to IT. They provide an opportunity to play a part in delivering projects that matter, whilst studying towards qualifications and earning a salary. 

To find out more about apprenticeship opportunities with Network Rail and how to apply visit: Apprenticeships – Network Rail 

Photo credit: Network Rail


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