1. A diverse and inclusive workforce

 

“I expected a range of sixteen to eighteen year olds when I started, but other apprentices ranged from seventeen to thirty-two years old. With over two hundred apprentices, people were from all over, from Scotland to Cornwall and such a variety of personalities, which is great for team building. It’s also changing massively – it’s no longer the male-dominated industry you expect it to be!

The first nine months of the programme you live together in cohorts where people get to know each other and build amazing friendships. I still have dinner with colleagues from my apprenticeship who have moved all around the country.”

 

2. Work-life balance

 

“At first I worried it would be work-work-work as we were effectively living with our colleagues. But they really consider the apprentices’ welfare, and I never brought my work home with me. Although we had big assignments, they were manageable and we had time and support to complete them. Throughout the apprenticeship there was time to forget about work and do your own thing.”

 

3. Equality of opportunity

 

“There’s absolutely no discrimination and the opportunity to progress is really evident. I’ve consistently applied myself and achieved throughout my time with Network Rail.

As an apprentice, throughout the scheme you build up a relationship with your line manager and ultimately they always looking for opportunities for you. You have to compete for places from applications outside the organization, but you are at a distinct advantage having grown your skillset internally.”

 

4. Training, personal and professional development

 

“You are always kept on your toes with a mixture of college-based learning and on-site practicals. You can choose your specialism and two other disciplines from telecommunications, signals, tracks, data transmission – it goes on. The variety means you get to shape your apprenticeship.

Line managers take a real interest in your development and look to see where you fit based on your relationship with the team, and offer optional training courses.

At one-to-one sessions you get to talk about your progress, what you are struggling with basically just chat how you are doing. It was very supportive.”

 

5. Responsibility

 

“It’s important to be fully supported during your apprenticeship. It can be a steedp learning curve, so knowing you have someone by your side in case you mess up is really useful.

Once you’ve found your feet, you want to be able to take ownership of something depending on your choice of specialism. Personally I had lots of independent travelling to meet teams, going round the country to different stations to learn multiple disciplines necessary for working at Network Rail.”

           

6. Opportunities for travel

 

“Naturally working in transport there is A LOT of opportunity to travel. I love meeting new people and travelling the country I developed my social skills and created a really solid professional network.”

 

7. Career progression

 

“Progression is ultimately what both parties are after; which makes the process seem more natural. When you have finished your apprenticeship you can apply anywhere in the country for Network Rail – you can move discipline, like I did, or they will even fund University fees if appropriate. No one is held back by age; if you know what you’re talking about and have the right attitude, that’s enough.”