1. Please give an overview of your role and what this involves on a day-to-day basis:
I am a Track Technical Apprentice at London Underground which is one of quit a few engineering apprenticeships Transport For London offers. I started my apprenticeship in the training centre learning general engineering knowledge including, mechanical, electrical and machining. I was also going to college 1 day a week which lasted for 2 years to achieve my Diploma in Civil Engineering and the Built Environment (Level 2), however most of the other apprentices did their college course as a block over 6 months instead. After about 6 months at the training school I was sent out into the business on 3 month placements at a number of different places all over London. During this time I was learning on the job and meeting all different types of people with different skill sets, I was going to college 1 day a week and producing a portfolio to achieve my extended diploma in technical support (Level 3. I was doing a mixture between day shifts and night shifts getting involved in maintenance work on track. I also got involved with updating documents after maintenance work and producing project plans for bigger maintenance jobs. When ever I had some free time in the office I would use this time to produce my write ups showing what I had learnt to go into my portfolio.
2. Have you learnt any new skills or developed existing skills?
I think that learning new skills effectively is most effective when you are interested in what you are learning. So walking through 150 year old railway deep under London and contributing to improving the service is easy to find interesting. As well as the technical skills that I have picked up during my placements I will also achieve a number of external and internal qualifications that will help me climb the ladder in the future.
3. To what extent do you enjoy your programme?
Personally I think that my role is a perfect mix between office work and working on site. I'm not one for sitting at a desk for the rest of my career but at the same time I do like to get involved with the technical support that a Track Technician gives and the planning of a big maintenance job.
4. How valued do you feel by Transport for London?
Transport For London believe that the 'apprentices are the companies future' and it shows.
5. How well organised/structured is your programme?
My programme is very well structured, the induction was quit intense at times but provides you with all the knowledge you need to go out on your placements. I have monthly meetings with my manager where we have a review to see how I am getting on and if I have any concerns, the meeting gives me a chance to discuss any courses I want to go on or if I would like to have a placement at a particular area of the business. When I go to a new placement I am given a manager to report to who will have a conversation with me about what I would like to get involved with and what I want to achieve within the 3 months at the placement.
6a. How much support do you receive from your training provider?
I have monthly meetings with my manager where I can discuss any concerns I have. I am constantly in contact with my manager and other managers at the training school for guidance and advice to make the most of my 3 year apprenticeship. I have access to a number of guidance packs and company standards that I will look at if I am not sure about a particular procedure.
6b. How much support do you receive from your employer?
I can receive support from my employer for almost anything. Whether its equipment that I need, training or personal support, it is all available. When I started working here I expected to have the correct equipment to do my job and to go on particular courses which I have, but I was surprised at the amount of help that is available for me personally if I am having trouble with something out side work. You don't need to share anything you don't want to but its reassuring that it is there if you need it.
7. How well does your salary/package meet your costs?
For an apprentice my salary is good and I'm expecting to be on a good salary once I have qualified. My travel costs are minimal as I receive a free travel card for me and someone else that lives with me which will get me and my nominee around London for free 24/7. I also receive a 75% reimbursement for an annual season ticket on Network rail that I also need to get to work. Socially I don't struggle to pay for nights out or other expenses but this would obviously be a different storey for someone who has moved out.
8. Are there many opportunities outside of work?
Obviously working in the heart of London encourages you to go out and see what the cities got to offer and with your oyster card this doesn't have to be expensive. Throughout the apprenticeships there is a number of oppatunities that are available to get involved in and there are sporting events that you can sign up for.
9. Would you recommend Transport for London to a friend?
I would recommend this apprenticeship to a friend because it is a good job for life. Ive been working on track for 2 years now and I am still wondering if the environment that im working in is ever going to get boring, to be honest I dont think it ever will, theres something really cool about working deep under London for your job. Not many people can say that they do that.
10. What tips or advice would you give to others applying to Transport for London?
Spend some good time on your application, and be honest and determined in your cover letter. I feel that being honest and spending some good time on my application was what got me an interview. In your interview dont hold back and try to sell yourself the best you can without being arogant. Do your research into the company and in particular the scheme in which you are applying for. Before my interview me and my family thought of some questions that were likely to come up and I made sure that a had a good answer to all of these but dont expect to think of all the questions you are likely to be asked. If you are successfull, to make the most of your time as an apprentice you will need to form good relationships with many people you work with and make sure that you talk to your manager about anything that you may be interested in. I think that the apprenticeship is a good way to join the company because it gives you a good chance to find an area that you enjoy and will give you a good amunt of time to come out of your apprenticeship fully competant in a particular role.
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