London Midland is delivering a trailblazer apprenticeship scheme to youngsters across its network in partnership with the National Training Academy for Rail (NTAR) in Northampton and Birmingham Metropolitan College (BMet). The scheme will set a new standard in engineering and aims to make train services more reliable for customers.

This brand new initiative for the rail industry is aimed at tackling the skills gap, the scheme goes live in September 201 6. Recruitment for new apprentices is now underway.

The Rail Engineering Technician Apprenticeship Standard (Level 3) has been developed over the last two years by employers within the industry, including Siemens and Network Rail.

London Midland will recruit four apprentices to the scheme, who will be joined by a number of apprentices from other engineering and rail organisations.

The three year scheme will see apprentices learning engineering fundamentals in a range of modules, from engineering hand skills to air conditioning systems maintenance, electrical principles to project management. Upon completion, learners will gain industry-specific Level 3 knowledge and competence qualifications.

Kirk Trewin, head of fleet production at London Midland said:
“Passengers are entitled to a reliable and safe railway. To achieve this you need to be training the best engineers. As a business we are committed to continually improving the service we offer passengers, and making travel as simple as possible for everyone. Investing in the skills of employees is an important part of this commitment.

“Demand for rail travel is growing in the UK and globally. This is a fantastic new opportunity for young people to be trained in skills which are highly relevant to the rail industry. We are delighted to be the first train service to provide this type of apprenticeship scheme, which we firmly believe will open many doors for a new wave of rail employees in years to come.”

The partnership, which brings together a forward thinking employer, a leading further education college and a state of the art rail training provider, provides multi-dimensional learning opportunities for the apprentices, including STEM subjects, rail promotional activities, as well as team building and corporate social responsibility.

The apprentices will spend much of their first year at BMet full time, learning engineering fundamentals in a three-term block release. In the second year, in addition to attending college on a day release basis, they will spend time over the summer at the National Training Academy for Rail. The third year will be spent mostly in the workplace, developing occupational competence.

Daniel Walker, head of apprenticeship delivery at NTAR, added:
“Learners will be some of the first to go through the new End Point Assessment process, which will grant them the opportunity to demonstrate technical, professional and occupational competence, and take it back to the workplace and the industry.”

BMet’s commercial director Julie Nugent also praised the scheme for identifying ‘sector-specific skills’ London Midland need from their workforce, with BMet ‘ideally placed’ to lead the trailblazer after years of delivering engineering training and working in partnership with the train company.

She commented:
“These new apprenticeships will showcase the collaborative powers of this trailblazer scheme. London Midland has identified the sector-specific skills they need from their workforce and in response we have developed a training provision with NTAR that tackles these head on.

“Having delivered engineering training and worked with London Midland for a number of years, BMet is ideally placed to lead on this trailblazer. We’re looking forward to using these apprenticeships to help inspire and train young people in a range of careers across the rail and transport network as a whole.”