Maritime and rail sectors benefitting from apprenticeship scheme

During National Apprenticeship Week 2021, High Speed 2 (HS2) and Skills Minister Andrew Stephenson has paid tribute to the apprentices and their employers around the country who have been stepping up to keep the country running throughout the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

From setting up mentor programmes and using innovative technology to keep people safe through to launching Wellbeing Wednesdays, employers from across the transport sector have ensured that apprentices have been able to continue to advance their careers in their valuable placements, despite challenging circumstances.

HS2 and Skills Minster, Andrew Stephenson, said:

“This week is a great opportunity to shine a light on the can-do attitude of employers and apprentices during the pandemic.

Apprentices play a pivotal role in bringing new skills and fresh perspectives into the workplace. As they gain the skills and confidence to forge a brilliant career, they lead the way in unlocking new jobs and ensuring this country has the skilled workforce it needs for the future.

It is crucial we continue to attract and inspire a wide range of people into transport careers so we can deliver our ambitious programme of infrastructure investment as we build back better from COVID-19.”

Network Rail has been deploying innovative technology to help some of their apprentices carry out their day job, including Railway Systems Apprentice Heather who was able to use a state-of-the-art-augmented reality headset onsite to help maintain social distancing.

Heather said:

“There have been many changes in our lives from COVID-19 and many new challenges, but at Network Rail we have adapted to this new way of working very quickly, which has made the transition much easier as an apprentice.

Due to COVID-19, I have started working with the signalling innovations team as they needed help with a project that used augmented reality headsets onsite to help keep the 2-metre distance. Being somebody interested in technology, this was fantastic to see and get involved with.”

Last month, TfL welcomed 56 recruited graduates and apprentices, and a further 103 will join the company in April.

Skills and Employment Lead at TfL, Karen Wallbridge, said:

“Throughout the pandemic, we have worked collaboratively across the organisation to ensure support has been in place for our apprentices.

From Wellbeing Wednesdays, where our occupational health team ensure their wellbeing is at the centre of conversations, to our graduate and apprentice group holding virtual lunches – we have, and always will, ensure that our apprentices are supported from the point of accepting an offer.”

Apprenticeships provide people with the opportunity to earn and learn the skills needed to start an exciting career in a wide range of industries – everything from artificial intelligence, archaeology, data science, business management and banking to right across the transport sector.

To protect the current and future cohorts of maritime apprentices during COVID-19, an apprenticeship pledge was established by the Maritime Skills Alliance with 34 companies signing up to support the initiative. This week, Maritime UK’s Careers Taskforce has also used National Apprenticeship Week to showcase the breadth of maritime apprenticeships available through a range of interviews, webinars and a toolkit.

The Careers Taskforce, along with the Maritime Skills Commission and Diversity Taskforce, were established during the height of the pandemic in response to the Maritime 2050 people recommendations.

Collectively, they will support the Maritime 2050 ambition to create a diverse and inclusive maritime workforce of the future, with the right skills in the right places, enabling it to capitalise on the new opportunities, including through the global transition to zero-emission and smart shipping.