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The Corporation

Posted: 19/05/10

Getting apprentices on track for success

A new state-of-the-art training facility set up to provide rail industry apprentices with a realistic working environment will be officially unveiled on Friday (21 May).

It has been created by Vision Apprentices – a new recruitment service launched by West Nottinghamshire College to help employers deliver long-term apprenticeship opportunities to young people.

Based in Beeston, Nottingham, the facility includes a 140-metre stretch of rail track for trackside training costing £150,000, along with training rooms for class-based study.

It will be run in partnership with Bridgeway Consulting, the UK’s leading railway infrastructure and asset management contractor, and Trackwork, specialist railway engineers and a national training organisation to the rail industry.

The three organisations have joined forces to provide placements for 16-18 year-olds wanting to forge a career in the rail sector.

The new facility is based at the Bridgeway Consulting HQ at Beeston Business Park. Training will be delivered by tutors with vast expertise in their field, with courses including NVQ Level 2 in Railway Engineering (Permanent Way Renewals), Intermediate Certificate in Business Improvement Techniques and key skills in communications and numeracy.  After successful completion, students can then study personal track safety and a track induction course.

Attending the official opening will be local MPs, key rail industry figures, passenger transport operators and representatives from sector skills council ‘Go Skills’,  National Apprenticeship Service, East Midlands Development Agency and Nottingham City Council.

Keynote speaker will be Gil Howarth, project director of the National Skills Academy for Railway Engineering (NSARE), and a Colonel in the Engineering and Logistics Staff Corps, which comprises 60 top industrialists who support the Armed Forces. 

Graham Howe, managing director of Vision Apprentices, said: “We’re looking forward to working with employers to provide long-term apprenticeship and training opportunities for 16-18 year-olds keen to embark on a rewarding career in the rail industry.

“This state-of-the-art facility heralds the beginning of a new and innovative model of rail apprenticeship and will ensure trainees receive the very best skills training in a realistic working environment, developed especially to meet their needs and the requirements of the sector.

“Working with Bridgeway Consulting and Trackwork, I’m confident we’ll take our exciting apprenticeship scheme to another level.”

Vision Apprentices is a wholly-owned subsidiary of West Nottinghamshire College, specialising in manufacturing, engineering and maintenance apprenticeships for 16 to 18-year-olds. It is one of just 12 Apprenticeship Training Associations (ATAs) to be set up across the country, aided by £7m of Government funding.

ATAs are companies or partnerships acting as recruitment services that place apprentices with ‘host’ employers.  A concept first devised in Australia, they offer firms greater flexibility than employing trainees directly.

Vision Apprentices will work with local and national companies to provide long-term placements for 2,550 apprentices over the next three years in sectors such as advanced manufacturing, passenger transport and logistics – industries the Government believes are vital for the country’s economic growth.  

It will employ the apprentices directly and pre-screen all potential candidates before matching them up with an employer’s specific needs. It will also advertise apprenticeship vacancies on behalf of employers; helping them save on recruitment costs.

If the host employer is unable to continue supporting the apprentice for any reason, they will return to Vision Apprentices and be assigned to another employer – allowing the apprentice to continue their training.