1. Please give an overview of your role and what this involves on a day-to-day basis:
My job role is an Apprentice Signalling Maintenence Engineering Technician. On a day-to-day basis I would take part in a variety in different teams fully experiencing my chosen signalling discipline, including fault finding, installation, repairing and maintenence. In my current first year though, I study a college-based education covering simple theoretical and practical aspects about my apprenticeship role.
2. Have you learnt any new skills or developed existing skills?
During year 1 I have learned skills in electrical craft such as crimped and soldered connections and how to fault find through continuity and insulation resistance tests. I have also learned mathematical skills ranging from logarithms to calculus, health and safety regulations related to my line of work, electrical and electronic theory including circuit components and working with logic, and theory on signalling systems.
3. To what extent do you enjoy your programme?
While the college education can be a bit of a drag and not always relate to the tasks I will be undertaking in years 2 and 3, that which does relate allows an insight to the future ahead at a beginners level leaving you time to not only learn the trade but enjoy learning it as well.
4. How valued do you feel by Network Rail?
It costs in excess of £70,000 to train one apprentice in their first year and with the addition of the company catering for those with disabilities and personal issues every apprentice feels valued on a personal level.
5. How well organised/structured is your programme?
The timetable for the programme is set at the very start of year 1 and rarely deviates, meaning that all apprentices know what they will be learning, when they will be learning it and how long they will be learning it for.
6a. How much support do you receive from your training provider?
Our training provided, Babcock, offer support not only work wise through one-to-one tuition if required and 24-hour VLE assistance but also on a personal level with the easy to talk to Apprentice Support Officers who's job is to make sure that apprentices enjoy life both in and out of work.
6b. How much support do you receive from your employer?
Our employer supports us all the way through our apprenticeship, providing us with regular cascades informing us of the company's position and encouragement to engage with future year 2 and 3 staff.
7. How well does your salary/package meet your costs?
While we only get paid roughly £660 per month in year 1, during this year we have our food, accomodation, energy, internet and travel to work and home paid for along with a free 16-25 railcard. This means that you effectively don't need to spend a penny of your salary on necessities and it is yours to either save or spend on luxuries. The salary improves further in year 2 and 3, with a tidy £1200 bonus at the end of year 1 to help settle in to your chosen local depot.
8. Are there many opportunities outside of work?
Network Rail during year 1 funds extra curricular activities such as sports, board games in evenings, with elected apprentice house captains allowed to organise larger activities such as paintballing through a designated fund. In years 2 and 3 there are many opportunities to excel your career such as double training in another discipline or seeking management training to improve your final job.
9a. Would you recommend Network Rail to a friend? *
9b. Why? *
The apprenticeship not only supports you on an employment scale but also on a personal scale, and without this apprenticeship and the personal support it has given me through hard times that I have faced it's safe to say I could not have made it to this point without Network Rail.
10. What tips or advice would you give to others applying to Network Rail? *
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