Students at the North East’s specialist Rail Academy could be offered permanent jobs thanks to a new partnership with employer ISSL, Infra Safety Services (ISS) Labour Ltd.
Less than a year after the Rail Academy opened in Gateshead, it has signed a deal that will see 10 students obtain paid work experience at ISS Labour Ltd every year – with five of them permanently employed after 12 months.
The partnership comes after the first cohort of students were honoured for their hard work at an awards ceremony earlier this month, which was supported by a number of key businesses from around the region.
The Rail Academy, operated by Newcastle College, opened in September last year and is aimed at putting rail career choices right back at the heart of the birthplace of the railway.
One of the students taking up the offer is Liam Barrass, 23, from Wallsend, a former doorman. ‘I’m really excited to have been given the opportunity to work at ISS Labour. I will give it my all because I would obviously love the chance to work for the company permanently. The Rail Academy has been brilliant for me. It has changed my life. I want to progress with my qualifications as far as I can.’
Says Simon Higgens, chief executive of ISS Labour Ltd, ‘We have been really impressed with the Rail Academy because it has got so far and to such a high standard extremely quickly. There is nothing else like it, as yet, in the country.
‘There is a huge skills gap in the rail industry at a time when there is going to be enormous growth, and we don’t have sufficient numbers of skilled people to carry out all of the work required. When I came to look around the Rail Academy, I was really impressed with the students’ work ethic, their attitude and the standards they were working to. I felt we had so much in common.’
The 10 students who have been chosen for work experience at ISS Labour Ltd for the next year are Liam Barrass, Aaron Richardson, Paul Cross, Simon Davenport, Ben Shilling, Robert Hall, Nathan O’Connell, Alex Larke, Booncherd Chaikaud and Jason Thompson.
Adds Higgens, ‘We are delighted to be able to offer some students this opportunity. It’s an excellent industry to build a career in, so we want to help as many young people as possible to reach their potential.’
Marc McPake, the academy’s head of rail, is delighted with the new scheme. ‘Knowing that five students every year will be offered employment is amazing. What a great opportunity.’