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More apprentices for Wales

Expansion of rail projects in Wales means more skilled engineers are needed to support its continuing growth.

Network Rail Wales has launched its latest advanced apprenticeship scheme for 2012. The intake of apprentices is being stepped up particularly in the field of electrical engineering. Rail chiefs want to be well prepared for the forthcoming electrification of parts of the railway in south Wales. The company will be actively promoting its apprenticeship scheme outside major cities in a bid to encourage more applicants from rural areas.

Says Mark Langman, route managing director at Network Rail, ‘The railway in Wales is growing and we have big plans, including the £200m re-signalling and enhancement project in Cardiff and main line electrification. We need talented and ambitious young people to join us and be part of a 1,300 strong team in Wales helping millions of people get to their destinations safely and reliably.

‘We have six depots across Wales generating potential employment opportunities to prospective applicants from across the region, including those from rural areas. Beyond their apprenticeships, employees have the opportunity to undertake a higher national certificate, a foundation degree and then a full degree in engineering. They can earn while they learn and go as far as their aptitude, attitude and ambition can take them.’

Apprentices will spend a year training alongside the Royal Navy at Europe’s largest engineering training facility at HMS Sultan in Hampshire. Here they will develop the technical skills required to work on the railway and learn about leadership and teamwork.

Practical experience includes five week placements with the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways to assist with renewing infrastructure. Further training involves two years on-the-job at depots across Wales before returning to HMS Sultan for additional courses.

Says Adam Sargeant, a second year Network Rail electrification and plant apprentice from Newport, ‘I applied to Network Rail to seek a career in electrical engineering. I researched the scheme and it ticked all the right boxes offering me the opportunity to be involved in developing Britain’s railways. With so much investment and vision for the railways there was no better time to apply.’

In the first year, apprentices will be paid £8,400 + £1,150 when they successfully finish the year; the salary will rise to £11,750 in the second; and £14,000 in the third. In the first year, Network Rail will also feed, pay for accommodation and provide the clothing and personal protective equipment that they need, including safety boots, cargo trousers and a fleece.

There are plenty of holidays: 28 days plus bank holidays in total. Network Rail will pay for apprentices to travel home for long weekends and Christmas, Easter and summer holidays.

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