It will be someone who grasps the opportunities put in front of them that will win the RailStaff Awards 2016 Graduate of the Year category, says Steve Pears, telent’s managing director, rail.
This year will be the second time telent, which itself has a popular graduate scheme, has sponsored the category. It’s an area in which the company invests a lot of time and resource.
‘What we’re finding at the moment is year on year it’s increasing,’ said Steve, describing the growth of telent’s graduate scheme, which in September will welcome 20 new recruits.
The two-year scheme offers graduates the choice of pursuing a career either as an engineer or as a project manager within the business, which has been designing, delivering and maintaining railway telecommunications networks for more than 30 years.
Mel Gibson, one of telent’s project managers, who herself completed the scheme, was featured in the March issue of RailStaff. She worked as a junior bid manager on the bid for the RETB telecoms renewal in the Scottish Highlands and eventually went on to project manage the scheme. She said it was clear that the number of staff within the business who were 30 or younger was increasing.
Taking on responsibility
But the industry as a whole is failing to bring in as many young rail professionals as it needs to fulfill the industry’s future workload. It’s forcing graduates to mature more quickly than in the past – a challenge for graduates, but also an opportunity.
Last year, Graduate of the Year was won by Great Western Railway’s Tyler Corbishley. Although he had only been with the company for a short time, he set about making sweeping changes to the way the business operated, including digitalising the existing paper-based rostering system.
‘At the moment if you’re a graduate and there’s a great demand for engineers it gives you a chance to take on more responsibility, more quickly,’ said Steve.
Grow and develop
Although he felt that graduates were receiving recognition for their contribution, the awards serves as a good opportunity for newcomers to the industry to see where they fit into the grand scheme of things.
‘It’s an opportunity for them to understand the part that they can play,’ said Steve.
‘It’s very important that graduates feel they’ve got a good career and an opportunity to grow and develop in the business.’
Steve, who judged the Awards last year, also spoke about the ‘significant stories’ which are highlighted by the event, particularly where someone’s intervention has saved a life. ‘I think the business has a part to play but I think the individual has a bigger part to play,’ he said.