Southern Rail has teamed up with charity Building Heroes to upskill its new maintenance team and at the same time help ex-servicemen and women back into work (see case study in editor's notes).
Building Heroes works with Chichester College to put military veterans through an intensive five-week course which gives them a Level 1 foundation course in property maintenance from where they can find work.
Working in partnership with the charity, Southern is putting its own newly-formed in-house maintenance team through the same training, which helps towards the cost of the charity's training. In addition, Building Heroes graduates will also be considered for any vacancies in Southern's team.
On Friday, 6 December, the partners celebrated the graduation of the first Southern employee together with 12 ex-servicemen at Southern's new maintenance depot in Horsham. The depot features a workshop with industrial woodwork and metalworking equipment which will allow Southern to better maintain its stations.
Keith Jipps, Infrastructure Director at Govia Thameslink Railway which operates Southern, said: "This partnership with Building Heroes is hugely important to us as we continue our focus on transforming lives and the communities we work in.
"The course, which compresses 12 months of training into just five fantastic weeks of property maintenance learning, will help us give passengers better stations and facilities.
"This is a win-win for both of us: we can train our team to new levels of professionalism and provide some funding for Building Heroes to help them with their excellent support of ex-servicemen and women.
"I also expect our collaboration to lead to job opportunities for the veterans who have served this country. After all, we know they will have received training in the very skills we are looking for."
Building for Heroes CEO Brendan Williams said: "This is an important partnership for Building Heroes, creating job opportunities for our military learners. We look forward to a long and mutually beneficial relationship with Southern Railway."