Rail operator sets out apprenticeships target for 2023

  • Marking National Apprenticeship Week, Govia Thameslink Railway has announced its target of supporting 220 new and existing employees into apprenticeship programmes
  • 2023 also sees the company welcoming its 100th apprentice onto the driver training programme with Southern Rail

Despite challenges in the industry, Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) has continued to upskill and harness its workforce over the last year with a varied programme of apprenticeships. Since the introduction of the government's apprenticeship levy in 2017, more than 400 employees have benefitted from training at GTR, with an additional 500 people continuing to study.

For 2023, the rail operator has set itself a target of 220 employees starting an apprenticeship, which is a 20 per cent increase on the number of those who started an apprenticeship with the company last year.

Open to current and new employees, the apprenticeships on offer range from train driving and customer service, to engineering, management and leadership skills. Last year also saw the addition of two new courses in response to needs from the business and employee feedback.

Passenger Transport Operative and Learning and Development Practitioner programmes have been added to the portfolio, which now boasts a total of 12 different apprenticeships that railway colleagues can take advantage of.

As well as a new target for 2023, this year marks a milestone moment for the operator, as it sees the 100th employee start its train driver apprenticeship. Although there has been well over that figure coming through the programme in total, since becoming an employment provider of apprenticeships in March 2020, GTR is now able to run the training in-house and tailored to its staff.

Someone benefitting from the tailored training course to become a driver is Kevin Wheat, 51, who joined the railway following a longstanding career as a paramedic. He said: "I worked as a paramedic for 24 years, but I was looking for a change. Swapping careers later in life was pretty scary, but I'm relishing the opportunity to learn new skills. What's even better is that my son has also joined the company and he's studying towards an engineering apprenticeship, so we can help each other out!"

David Jackson, Apprenticeship Specialist at Govia Thameslink Railway, commented: "Our people are our biggest asset and it's great to see colleagues grow and develop at GTR with the help of tailored apprenticeship programmes.

"Training and upskilling employees is helping us on our mission to build an inclusive workforce by offering the opportunity to gain additional qualifications at no extra cost to the individual. Everyone deserves the right to develop their skills and we're very proud of how many people continue to study and complete apprenticeships with us."

Continuing a trend seen over the last five years, an impressive 42 per cent of those starting an apprenticeship in 2022 were aged between 31 and 40, bucking the perception that apprenticeships are a younger person's game. In addition, a third identified as Black and Minority Ethnic, which GTR hopes will continue to increase as the company works to diversify its workforce to reflect the communities it serves.

Anyone considering applying for an apprenticeship with GTR can sign up for alerts at: https://gtrailwaycareers.com/jobs/apprenticeships.

Case studies:

  • Proving that railway runs in the family, Kevin and Samuel Wheat have both taken up careers with Southern and they're also both working towards apprenticeships in train driving and engineering. Read their story here.
  • Hoping to close the gap between male and female representation in rail, Rezwana Khanom, has become part of the movement and is now training to be a driver. Read her story here.
  • They say absence makes the heart grow fonder, which was the case for Mehmet Pacaci, who left rail for a short stint in the Metropolitan Police. He's now back working for Great Northern and on-track to complete his second apprenticeship with the company. Read his story here.


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