Apprentice Telecommunications Maintance Technician at Network Rail

Start Date:
Programme Type:
Apprenticeship - Advanced Level (Level 3)
£650 monthly
Review Date:
May 2016

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1. Please give an overview of your role and what this involves on a day-to-day basis:


I am a Telecommunications Apprentice. At the moment I am in HMS Sultan just about to complete my first year. My days consist of studying in classrooms day to day to achieve my NVQ and BTEC qualifications. Once I go to my depot closer to home I will be undertaking maintenance tasks and fault finding on Telecommunications equipment. I will also be spending time with other disciplines such as track and signals to gain a better understanding of the day to day operation of the infrastructure that Network Rail manage.

2. Have you learnt any new skills or developed existing skills?


At the moment I am studying towards my Level 2 +3 BTECs and NVQ'S alongside also working towards my Level two team leading qualifications. Before joining the apprenticeship scheme I had no experience in engineering and since coming here I have learnt a great deal in such a small space of time. There is a lot of ways to develop and gain new skills especially in regards to the team leading qualifications as we go on trips out orienteering and you have to lead a team around the course. It has helped me grow in confidence and helped me become a better employee.

3. To what extent do you enjoy your programme?


I enjoy my programme however there are still areas that could be improved. The residential aspect of the scheme is enjoyable as you get to meet lots of people of different cultures and backgrounds to yourself and there are plenty of opportunities to try new things. The day to day work aspect of the programme can get tedious as you stay in one lesson all day for weeks at a time. It would help if we had different lessons throughout the day. Overall though I find the scheme enjoyable and staying down here in Portsmouth has been a good laugh.

4. How valued do you feel by Network Rail?


There are constant reminders of how much Network Rail value their apprentices. I feel valued here and always feel like Network Rail has my best interests at heart. There are various policies that you can challenge if you ever feel like you are not being treated fairly and Network rail are always supportive and appreciative of the work that you do. There are positive AAR's which are reports that you can get if you work well which are read out at our monthly management meetings to acknowledge and give credit to those who do well.

5. How well organised/structured is your programme?


There are a lot of aspects to this scheme that are structured well. The lessons here in HMS Sultan are structured really well however since it was announced that Network Rail were moving the scheme to Coventry , the instructors who work for Babcock have all left leaving hardly any decent instructors left to teach and oversee our training. This has resulted in a lot of chaos to the work schedule and has significantly impacted on our first year learning. It would also be helpful to include more subjects that relate to our disciplines as the only subject I will do this year is Telecommunications Principles and that was not taught by a telecoms instructor (The original telecoms teacher left at the start of the year and they never bothered to replace him).

6a. How much support do you receive from your training provider?


There is a lot of support on offer in the form of Apprentice support Officers. You are assing an ASO at the start of the year and you have your monthly one to one with him/her where you can raise any issues and concerns and talk about anything that is bothering you. They always see that your problem is sorted out and that you can get the help you need. Instructors can sometimes be reluctant to help with the work load that they have been landed with however there are some that do help. A lot of the instructors seem to not understand when somebody asks for help and a few , on occasion have had an attitude when you do ask for help.

6b. How much support do you receive from your employer?


In all honesty , we don't really have much dealings with our employer in our first year. They only person who we see is our year one manager and a couple of admin staff. Other than that we don't see anyone . I have met my line manager for 2 days out of the whole year. However when I have needed support from my employer I have always been given it and I know that there a re a number of different support mechanisms available to me should I ever need it.

7. How well does your salary/package meet your costs?


In the first year my salary exceeds my costs as I have nothing to pay for. Netwok rail cover the costs for your food , corporate clothing, accommodation whilst here. However I know that in the second and third years I will struggle as I will live over 40 miles from my depot and I am expected to pay for myself to get to and from there everyday on a low wage whilst also paying rent. It would help if we were given exact depot locations when we applied to the scheme as I was initially told my depot was in Durham but have now been told my depot is in Gateshead.

8. Are there many opportunities outside of work?


There are various activities set up for us in the first year outside of work . There are fitness classes , competitions , pool games , darts and other games to play outside of work. However we are that busy with assignments that we rarely get chance to take part in any of these.

9a. Would you recommend Network Rail to a friend? *


9b. Why? *

I have learnt so much in this first year and definitely feel like I am able to build myself a career working for Network Rail. Everything is available to you if you work hard enough and there are a lot of rewards to be had.

10. What tips or advice would you give to others applying to Network Rail? *

The application process is really long and can be difficult for some but make sure you stick it out. Just be confident and show them that you want to be a part of this scheme , do your research , make sure you are a team player and that you are willing to learn anything.

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