Our websites

West Nottinghamshire College Group operates a number of websites that support our growing business.

The Corporation

Posted: 24/05/10

Rail apprentices on track for success

A new state-of-the-art training facility that provides rail industry apprentices with a realistic working environment has been unveiled.

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 is being 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.

Training is 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.

Among those attending the official opening of the facility – based at the Bridgeway Consulting HQ at Beeston Business Park – on Friday 21 May were apprentices, local MPs, key rail industry figures, passenger transport operators and representatives from sector skills council ‘Go Skills’, the National Apprenticeship Service and East Midlands Development Agency.

Keynote speaker 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, spoke of the “huge career opportunities” in the rail industry.

Mr Howarth, who has held several senior positions in the rail industry at organisations such as British Railways Board, Union Railways Ltd and Railtrack Plc, said apprenticeships were vital to an industry that needed qualified people “to design, build and construct the rail network”.

Other speakers included Asha Khemka OBE, principal and chief executive of West Nottinghamshire College; Pino De Rosa, managing director of Bridgeway Consulting; and Bill Alexander, national apprentice manager at Network Rail.

Mr Alexander said: “The rail industry needs efficient staff with the underpinning skills. That’s why apprenticeships are so important; they give you the foundation to move your career forwards.  Working in partnership with schools, colleges and employers is the way forward – education and industry working together to provide not only the jobs of today but for the future.”

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.”

Apprentices attending the launch event welcomed the new training facilities.

Brad Halfpenny, 17, of Sutton-in-Ashfield, said: “The facilities are great. They put you in a proper working environment and you couldn’t ask for better training staff. I’m really looking forward to working in the rail industry. The possibilities are endless.”

Toby Edwards, 17, of Calverton, said: “The facilities and tools that we’re getting to use are absolutely brilliant. Doing my training here gives me a great idea of what it’ll be like to actually work on the rail tracks.”