1. Please give an overview of your role and what this involves on a day-to-day basis:
I'm an S&T apprentice so I follow the Maintenance and Faulting team on their shifts.
The shift starts with organising the days work, mainly maintenance tasks with the occasional fault. The shifts do vary a lot on nights and it can be a good opportunity to see the different projects going on in the area.
Over the 2nd and 3rd years you will be expected to complete 20 assignments with a minimum word count of 2500 and 9 NVQ reports.
2. Have you learnt any new skills or developed existing skills?
First year learnt a lot of basic electronics such as circuits, fault finding and using electric equipment.
Second year I have learnt a lot on railway specific equipment which has been taught by the instructors at sultan as well as my team leader at the depot.
3. To what extent do you enjoy your programme?
Probably exceeded my expectations. The guys at the depot are great and made some good friends in the first year. The amount of assignments is probably the only downside.
4. How valued do you feel by Network Rail?
There is sometimes internal recognition from managers when the team rectify a fault etc. A lot of people don't know what we get up to on the apprenticeship.
5. How well organised/structured is your programme?
A lot of the first year is a bit unorganised. Different subjects that should last a maximum of 2 weeks are scattered across the whole year. The majority of first year learning is not railway related.
Second year is a lot better with returns to Sultan for courses by Network Rail instructors. More is organised by yourself such as placements within the company in different areas.
6a. How much support do you receive from your training provider?
If you need support there is always someone available. I have not really went out of my way to seek extra support so can't really comment much on this section.
6b. How much support do you receive from your employer?
Support is generally good when I need it but it would help if management outside of the Apprenticeship Scheme had an idea of what we get up to in first year and what our assignments are about.
7. How well does your salary/package meet your costs?
The first year everything is paid for. You could go the whole year without spending a penny of your £8,618 but this would be very boring. The food provided can sometimes be poor quality so expect to spend a bit extra on Mcdonalds or Dominos atleast once a week. It is a good opportunity to save, especially if you have to relocated for the 2nd or 3rd years.
Second year pay goes up to £12,055. Once you follow your rota at the depot you will earn extra by working nights and weekends. Working in the South East also earns an enhancement which is around £900 a year I believe. Unlike other routes we also benefit from free travel passes so this keeps costs down and is very convenient.
Third year increases to £14,364.
The salary/package meets my costs as I am still living at home but some people have to pay for their own accommodation which sounds like it can be a struggle but is do-able.
8. Are there many opportunities outside of work?
First year there are many events that are part funded by Network Rail. Skydiving, Go-Ape, Go-Karting and Clay Pigeon Shooting were some of the previous events. Of course you still get most weekends to yourself so it's up to you what you get up to with your mates.
Second year there isn't as much on offer as you are at your depot most the time. Get on with your work colleagues and there is the occasional outing to the pub or curry house.
When on 3 week courses at Sultan make the most of your time there seeing your friends again.
9a. Would you recommend Network Rail to a friend? *
9b. Why? *
Good shift hours, free train travel, decent pay for an apprenticeship and is an interesting and rewarding job.
Working outside is so much better than sat in an office all day. I also make my friends jealous telling them I get a week off work every 5 weeks.
10. What tips or advice would you give to others applying to Network Rail? *
The first year can get tiresome, as well as the assignments that have to be carried out in Years 2 and 3. Just stick it out, it is all worth it.
Try not to take the first year so seriously and make the most of the social side of things.
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