• 1. Please give an overview of your role and what this involves on a day-to-day basis:
  • For the first 6 months I have lived at the residential training site Westwood, located in Coventry. During this time I complete NVQs and BTEC qualifications, modules included mathematics, mechanical principles, health and safety and maintaining mechanical devices. Once I started at depot I worked out of Carlisle, spending the days all over North Cumbria. I have replaced sleepers, rail and fixings. I also carried out track inspections and ballast regulations as well as a variety of maintenance work.


  • 2. Have you learnt any new skills or developed existing skills?
  • I have learnt about all the health and safety regulations surrounding the railway and how to use specialised hand tools. I have also learnt how to draw and interpret engineering drawings. I have met many people from a variety of backgrounds allowing me to develop my communication skills with different people. I have also learnt how to work effectively as a team.


  • 3. To what extent do you enjoy your programme?
  • I have really enjoyed the programme, I have met loads of new people who I am now good friends with. Both my team at depot and my class at Westwood are full of characters, this makes the days fly by and the work very enjoyable. Network Rail places a strong emphasis on diversity and inclusion this is reflected in the diversity of apprentices. This makes for a friendly and inclusive environment for everyone. The programme surpassed my personal expectations, the facilities at Westwood are incredible and I have found the academic work relevant. The on-the-job work as been great and very varied. Overall I have really enjoyed the programme and look forward to a great career with Network Rail with incredible prospects.


  • 4. How well organised/structured is your programme?
  • The programme is very well structured. I spent the first 26 weeks living at Westwood, a Network Rail training centre, in Coventry. I learnt about various different subject with academic and practical modules. I also learn about Network Rails behaviours, life saving rules and the culture they promote. I also spent one week at HMS Sultan, a Royal Navy base gaining technical competencies. I also spent a number of weeks during this time at my depot, near to my home. This allowed me to meet my line manager and the teams I would be working with after the initial phase. This eased the transition from Westwood to my depot and allowed me to learn more about my day to day job and what it would involve. The next two years of my apprenticeship will be spent at depot completing on-the-job training and completing tool specific training. I will also spend two spells at HMS Sultan completing practical training.


  • 5. How much support do you receive from your employer?
  • There is a huge amount of support available from Network Rail. At Westwood there are people and areas that apprentices can go to where they can speak about personal and professional issues. From an academic point of view there are extra evening classes available for people who fall behind on work or who require a bit of extra teaching. Away from Westwood apprentices all have reviews in which they can voice any concerns.


  • 6. How much support do you receive from your training provider when working towards your qualifications?
  • My training provider is very good, the classes are small and there is a high ratio of tutors to apprentices making it easy to learn. The modules are also very well structured with the lessons being set at a good pace. There are extra classes available in the evenings for people who want extra support.


  • 7. How well do you feel that your qualification (through your training provider) helps you to perform better in your role?
  • I feel that the all the rail specific qualifications and lessons are very useful in helping me become a better maintenance technician. Some modules are less relevant to my role such as maths however, future roles I may be need these qualifications. I found the training at HMS Sultan very useful, it allowed me to be contribute a lot when I visited depot.


  • 8. Are there extra-curricular activities to get involved in at your work? (For example, any social activities, sports teams, or even professional networking events.)
  • There are some activities that you can get involved in such as water polo, pool tournaments and pub quizzes. If class representatives suggest ideas and there is enough support for it, Network Rail are very good at facilitating activities. There is a gym on site and many apprentices go together. There is also local 5 or 6-a-side football leagues in the local area that apprentices can get involved in.


  • 9a. Would you recommend Network Rail to a friend?
  • Yes

  • 9b. Why?
  • The apprentice gives you skills and qualifications that will help you develop as a person professionally and personally. It allows you to meet new people and make good friends from all around the country. The job itself is very rewarding because you get to help an important transport network run smoothly, helping people live life; get to work, hospital appointments and holidays. The prospects after the apprenticeship are incredible, Network Rail invest tens of thousands of pounds in their apprentices because they are the company's future management. The starting salary after the apprenticeship averages at around £30,000, with the opportunity to work overtime during and after the apprenticeship to boost your wages.

  • 10. What tips or advice would you give to others applying to Network Rail?
  • Apply online, its simple and easy to do. After this there will be some online tests, research them online and try to find some similar questions or past papers. The assessment day involves a group activity, comprehension task and a one to one interview. My overall advice for this day would be relax, Network Rail want to create an atmosphere where they can see the best version of you, it's not about putting you under pressure. Get involved in the group activity, don't be a passenger. Ask questions of the current apprentices and research Network Rail policies and behaviours. Think about why you want the job and what experience you have that could be relevant to the job. Think about why you are the best person for the job, what positive character traits you have that would make you an asset from the team. Finally, don't be afraid to give it a go. In my intake there were people straight from school and others in their 30s wanting a career change.


Apprenticeship - Advanced Level (Level 3)

Engineering & Manufacturing


March 2020

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