1. Please give an overview of your role and what this involves on a day-to-day basis:
Initially, the role has involved completing assignments for BTEC and NVQ qualifications as well as ILM Level 3. The modules for the BTEC qualification were Health and Safety, Materials, Mechanical Systems, Mathematics, Permanent Way, Mechanical Principles, and Surveying. The NVQ qualification consisted of Bench Fitting, Technical Drawing, and 'Maintaining Mechanical Devices'. The latter involves the stripping and rebuilding of a HW2000 points machine, taking measurements as required. We also completed a two-week induction where we learnt basic operations such as the removal and replacement of rails, sleepers, and fastenings.
2. Have you learnt any new skills or developed existing skills?
I have developed a more detailed knowledge of the railway and leadership skills. The BTEC modules have allowed me to develop a broader understanding of railway operations. The ILM qualification has enabled me to strengthen my leadership skills which can be later applied in future roles.
3. To what extent do you enjoy your programme?
I have enjoyed the practical tasks and well as enhancing leadership skills. The practical tasks during the induction reiterated the importance of teamwork when carrying out works on the railway. I enjoyed the 'hands-on' work during Bench Fitting and Maintaining Mechanical Devices, as well as using previously learnt skills during Technical Drawing. I also found the Mechanical Systems and Permanent Way modules very interesting.
4. How valued do you feel by Network Rail?
Due to the financial support given, I do feel a valued employee. The provision of train tickets from my employer for travelling to and from my home during holiday breaks, as well as the financial support for relocation makes a significant difference to my livelihood.
5. How well organised/structured is your programme?
On the whole, the program has been varied which can kept interests high. The timetabling of sport of physical activities has enabled the cohort to 'let off steam' in between classroom sessions. The provision of visits such as the Swanage Railway and Alton has enabled us to visit different locations in the area, as well as working on the railway, even without PTS certification.
6a. How much support do you receive from your training provider?
Our training provider, on the whole, has provided plenty of support over the duration of the program. Instructors have provided us with considerable help when required, as well as using the endless knowledge of the subject to improve our understanding of topics included within assignments.
6b. How much support do you receive from your employer?
I have felt at times that greater levels of support could have been given at times. As part of my PTS, I was required to travel to a training depot north of Bristol to complete the course. The company stipulated that journeys of over 1.5 hours would entitle a hotel, however, upon requesting this, I was refused.
I also suffered breathing problems at the start of my time on the apprentice, and was refused permission to book an emergency doctors appointment by a member of the HR team.
7. How well does your salary/package meet your costs?
My salary sufficiently meets my current living costs. As meals, accommodation is are paid for by the company, costs incurred are mainly for social activities after working hours. This gives members of the cohort the opportunity to save considerable amounts of money.
8. Are there many opportunities outside of work?
The program has incorporated many activities for hours outside of work. This includes football and other sports, as well as activities such as go-karting and paintball with a donation towards costs by the company. My employer also encourages members of the cohort to participate in charitable events.
9a. Would you recommend Network Rail to a friend? *
9b. Why? *
I would recommend due to the financial support given by the company, such as the pension scheme, as well as the job security. As the company is investing around 50,000 per member, it is in their interest to provide employment after the apprenticeship.
10. What tips or advice would you give to others applying to Network Rail? *
I would show enthusiasm towards the company and the role, demonstrating a good knowledge of the operations of the railway, together with their challenges. I would also try to show how previous experience can be used to lead a team and be able to work well with others in order to achieve a common goal.
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