Network Rail has seen 18 of its former apprentices graduate from Sheffield Hallam University with higher national certificates (HNC) in railway engineering this November.
In total 64 Network Rail employees received honours and many attended a graduation ceremony at Sheffield Town Hall on 16 November. There were 22 people who gained their undergraduate honours in engineering.
Says Ian Miller, 25, a former Signalling and Telecoms apprentice, now working in Plymouth as a works delivery team leader, ‘At times it has been a struggle to balance my studies and full time job. However, thanks to the fantastic support I have received from my colleagues in Plymouth delivery unit, I have been able to achieve the results I hoped for.
‘I joined the Network Rail Apprenticeship after completing my A-Levels. I’d always wanted to go to university, however I wanted to be sure that what I choose to study would be relevant to my career path. Having found a career and job I enjoy, I look forward to returning to Sheffield in September to continue my studies to Foundation Degree Level.’
The railway graduates took the two-year part-time course in addition to a busy professional life working at maintenance depots and out on track. Network Rail pays for the university fees, accommodation and gives them time off to attend classes and examinations. It now offers up to 40 places a year to both those who have come through the apprentice scheme as well as those who have taken a different route.
Says Network Rail’s education programmes manager, Bill Templeton, ‘As the network continues to get busier and we face the challenges to get more trains (running) on time and increase capacity, we will need a more highly skilled workforce to achieve these.
‘It makes absolute sense for us to develop the excellent talent we have coming through our advanced apprenticeship scheme and I am convinced that this form of pipeline development will make us a more attractive employer for other bright men and women seeking a career in engineering.’