1. Please give an overview of your role and what this involves on a day-to-day basis:
I am an apprentice track maintenance technician, and I am currently studying towards a BTEC in railway engineering and an NVQ in performing engineering options. This is in addition to a qualification in level 3 ILM which will be obtained at the end of the apprenticeship. I attend classroom sessions at HMS Sultan, prior to working out of my depot in June.
2. Have you learnt any new skills or developed existing skills?
I am studying the following modules - mathematics, materials, mechanical systems, surveying, mechanical principles, permanent way, and health and safety - for my BTEC. The NVQ consists of bench fitting, technical drawing, and maintaining mechanical devices. The latter involves the stripping down and rebuilding of a points machine, taking measurements as stipulated in the instructions.
3. To what extent do you enjoy your programme?
I have enjoyed the variety of the different modules, learning new information and skills, as well as utilising existing skills and knowledge in order to apply it to given assignments. I have also enjoyed the practical tasks in the NVQ qualification, as well as those carried out in the induction. The latter involved a two week course where we learnt basic railway tasks, such as measured shovel packing, and sleeper and rail replacement.
4. How valued do you feel by Network Rail?
I feel valued from certain aspects of the scheme, such as the generous pension scheme, and the provision of free meals, accommodation, and travel by the employer. I do feel let down, however, as I was initially promised a relocation package in March as I was required to operate out of depot in Gloucester, however I have been recently informed that this, now is not the case. At the moment I am not completely sure of where I will be working from mid-June. I also feel let down due to the selection process. Despite my previous working experience end qualifications I was initially selected as a reserve. I have, since, learnt that members of the cohort who have been caught and disciplines for plagiarism were selected outright, and I am bemused as to the criteria or the selection process.
5. How well organised/structured is your programme?
I think that, so far, the apprenticeship has been very well structured. Variety has been provided between classroom sessions, practical tasks in the NVQ qualification and the induction, and physical exercise in ILM sessions. Information, on the whole, is well conveyed during house meetings and management cascade meetings, held roughly once a month.
6a. How much support do you receive from your training provider?
I have received much support from my training provider during classroom sessions. Most instructors have been extremely helpful and have been more than willing to offer their knowledge and support in order for us to successfully complete assignments. Apprentice support officers have also been on hand in order to solve personal issues in and outside of working hours.
6b. How much support do you receive from your employer?
I do feel let down by employer regarding the relocation package, and the lack of communication and professional attitude towards the issue. I have also had problems in receiving permission to book doctor's appointments during the start of the apprenticeship when I was experiencing problems with my breathing. I was also refused a hotel stay during my PTS. We were originally informed that we would be entitled to a hotel if our travel time was greater than one and a half hours, however, upon requesting I was refused, despite my travel time being over one and a half hours.
7. How well does your salary/package meet your costs?
I feel that my current salary meets my cost due to not being required to finance food or accommodation. After June, however, I am concerned that I may have to finance both food and accommodation, as well as a car on an apprenticeship way of around £850 every four weeks.
8. Are there many opportunities outside of work?
The employer provides many opportunities to engage in physical activities outside of working hours in the form of house events where numerous different houses compete again each other for an end of year prize. This enables members of the cohort to engage with each other, building relationships, as well as having a good form of exercise.
9a. Would you recommend Network Rail to a friend? *
9b. Why? *
On the whole, I would recommend the apprenticeship to a friend due to the opportunities at the end of the scheme, the opportunities to progress within the field, and the job security. Due to the lack of organisation I have experienced with assigning a depot for the second and third year, I would recommend that they should keep an open mind, and not be set on one particular location.
10. What tips or advice would you give to others applying to Network Rail? *
I would advise applications to demonstrate a good level of interest, enthusiasm, and knowledge towards the company, and its operations, as well as an understanding of problems and issued faced as part of the work. I would also recommend that during the interview process that applicants demonstrate previous experience in being able to lead a team, and be able to make quick, fundamental decisions.
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