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Essex: Colchester Institute students secure rail industry apprenticeship roles

06:00 03 March 2014

A group of TES rail industry students undergoing instruction.

A group of TES rail industry students undergoing instruction.

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Students from Colchester Institute have got their feet on the first rung of the career ladder, having secured jobs after completing a “pre-apprenticeship” for the rail industry.

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The scheme, called TRAX, has been developed by Network Rail contractor TES2000, which is based in Colchester, and the institute’s Faculty of Engineering Technologies.

TES2000, which besides its Essex headquarters has regional offices in Watford, Rugby, Manchester, Derby, Peterborough, Newcastle, Carlisle and Glasgow, provides dedicated teams to undertake a range of infrastructure services for Network Rail, including tack renewals, maintenance, possession management, overhead lines, security and technical services.

Due to the level of investment in the rail network and an industry skills shortage, TRAX fills a much-needed gap by being one of just a few schemes in the country which give people the initial training to work in the railway industry.

Students from the institute spent four days a week studying for a Level 1 City & Guilds 2850-10 Certificate in Engineering and a further half day a week at TES2000 to get an understanding of the rail industry.

All gained their Level 1 qualification and, after an interview at TES2000, all offered paid employment as rail engineering apprentices, supported by a wage subsidy programme introduced by Essex County Council to encourge the creation of apprenticeship opportunities.

One student declined the role as he has decided to take a degree but a total of 10 apprentices are being supported through the Essex Apprentice scheme. Of these, seven were registered as unemployed, two were employed part-time and one was studying at a sixth form college after leaving the Army.

Adam Ward, director of the Faculty of Engineering Technologies at Colchester Institute, said: “This is one of many successful initiatives that the faculty has developed.

“We are committed to ensuring that our learners are well prepared for work within the engineering sector, not just in terms of technical skills but, more importantly, in terms of attitude towards work and their employer.”

Over the next 12 months, the apprentices, who are aged from 18 to 24, will gain trackside experience and receive a grounding in the basics of the track. They will also return as day release students to study for Rail Engineering Level 2 qualification at Colchester Institute.

At the end of their first year, they will be given the opportunity to specialise in a particular area of the rail industry, such as track maintenance, overhead lines or signalling.

Tony Evans, managing Director, TES2000, said: “Over the next 10 years, rail in the UK will be subject to growth, as there is a huge amount of investment going to the networks. We can see we are losing skills and key people from the industry, so we are doing some succession planning and building the workforce for the future.

“We have strong links with Colchester Institute and we want to find the right people with the right attitude, behaviour and work ethic, for these jobs. They will be working in a high-risk environment so they have to know what they are doing and do it right.”

Due to the success of the current cohort of apprentices, TES2000 and Colchester Institute will be looking for a further 30 apprentices before the end of 2014, with recruitment begining immediately as part of the National Apprenticeship Week campaign which starts today and runs until Friday.

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