Yesterday marked the start of the annual celebration for National Apprenticeship Week, giving people the opportunity to showcase and celebrate the apprenticeship schemes available, as well as the impact they can have on; individuals, employers, the community and economy.

With CP6 on the horizon, it is estimated that between £175 million and £190 million will be paid into the apprenticeship levy. It is crucial that companies take full advantage of this resource because over the next 5 years the industry will be facing challenges unseen before including; Brexit and major infrastructure projects like HS2, as well as a skills shortage, aging workforce, a lack of diversity and resources being underutilised. This in turn will have a negative impact on the delivery schedules and planning throughout CP6 and therefore investing in apprenticeship schemes will be key to ensuring a successful future within the industry.

The UK Government target is to develop 3 million apprenticeships by 2020, and INFRA Skills Ltd are supporting this initiative through their Level 3 Trailblazers Apprenticeship Scheme in partnership with Colas Rail. This bespoke programme focuses on providing learners with a route into the rail sector that hones their scientific, technical, engineering, mathematical and design skillsets.

INFRA Skills and Colas Rail are supporting both learners and employers by developing the Level 3 Diploma for Rail Engineering Technician Knowledge. Through the programmes the apprentices will be given the opportunity to develop the knowledge and skills required to complete the four core areas of the scheme. These include; Track, OLE, Signalling and most recently Traction Rolling Stock introduced in September 2018.

It seems that one of the most significant barriers preventing organisations from taking up the opportunity to develop apprenticeship schemes, is the availability and flexibility of the programmes. Innovations like the Level 3 Trailblazers Rail Apprenticeship scheme show a more flexible approach to rail apprenticeships, focussing on both the sectors requirements today, as well as in the future. By delivering an apprenticeship that meets the industry’s needs, INFRA Skills Ltd are helping to ensure that the sector can remain sustainable and grow whilst inspiring a new generation of industry leaders.

Dave McDonough, Rail Training Manager for INFRA Skills said “This programme has been a huge accomplishment, with 54 successful learners having completed the training since 2017, and a second cohort commissioned by Colas Rail is already underway. We are looking forward to seeing the continuous success of this flexible apprenticeship programme that is focused on the future needs of the industry.”