First Rail Apprentices Complete Their Courses
10 September 2015
Costain’s Rail sector has just received the first two apprentices to take up jobs with the Company after a three-year training course.
Mark Weight specialised in Signalling, while Chris Lambe majored in Electrification and Plant. The apprenticeship scheme was initially a Network Rail programme that attracted considerable applicants for limited places, said Costain’s Head of Signalling, Andy Parsons. “After filling the positions Network Rail had about 10-15 youngsters that they didn’t want to let go, but didn’t have places for them and asked contractors if they wanted to take them on.
“We took on Mark and Chris three years ago and the following year we took on another two Permanent Way apprentices. We’ve also taken on another Signalling and another Electrification apprentice and those four are about to start their final year.”
The first year of the apprenticeship is a residential placement at the Royal Navy’s HMS Collingwood and HMS Sultan, co-located shore establishments at Gosport, Hampshire.
“It’s where the navy do all their engineering training and Network Rail has put in quite a bit of equipment there, to simulate track and signalling scenarios,” said Andy.
“The first year is residential and delivered by Babcock. It focuses on BTEC/PEO/NVQ Level 2 and theory/practical elements linked to rail engineering skills, depending on discipline. The apprentices have to abide by the apprentice charter, which explains the protocol they have to follow for being on a navy base. They get involved with activities such as the Field Gun Race, for which Network Rail enters its own team, and which is held every year on the base, with teams from the junior ranks of the navy, army, colleges and cadet forces taking part.
“In the second year, all apprentices – Network Rail and external – have a placement plan to complete within their respective areas. This is required to enable them to gain the underpinning knowledge for completion of heir NVQ Level 3. Any external apprentices are found placements with Network Rail maintenance teams close to their home location, as they are renewals/project-focused, not maintenance.
“The placement programme is important to complete as it will give apprentices the prior knowledge and practical experience for completion of their technical competencies delivered at HMS Sultan during year 2/3.
“We have a desire, and almost an obligation, to bring apprentices into the industry,” said Andy, who hopes that the two newly-qualified staff will be the first of a steady trickle of young, qualified technicians for the Rail sector.
Costain Communications Department