Network Rail

Keeping one of the UK’s largest apprenticeship programmes on track

Network Rail

Keeping one of the UK’s largest apprenticeship programmes on track

We run Network Rail’s apprenticeship programme for all apprentices specialising in areas including track, signalling, overhead line, telecommunications and electrification, and plant.

Developing effective apprenticeships

Network Rail runs, maintains and develops Britain’s rail infrastructure. Every day, four million people and thousands of tonnes of goods move around the country.

In 2005, Network Rail asked Babcock to develop their apprenticeship programme. At the time, it was localised and covered various aspects of engineering that didn’t meet all of Network Rail’s requirements.

So they wanted a provider capable of delivering consistent and relevant training to all their engineering apprentices, at one location, to a consistent standard.

Meeting specific training needs

We began by tailoring our Advanced Engineering Apprenticeship programme to meet the specific needs of Network Rail’s operations.

As well as technical training, the programme instils Network Rail’s Lifesaving rules and behaviours, which are pivotal to the company’s success in developing a world-class workforce, and instils a safety ethos which is vital in a complex operating environment.

The three-year programme is designed to meet the specific requirements of Network Rail’s operations and is based at the Babcock Engineering Academy at HMS Sultan in Gosport, Hampshire.

We have invested heavily in facilities at the Academy to recreate Network Rail’s work-based environments, and manage the training facilities, specialist equipment and residential quarters.

Year one apprentices live on-site, providing a broad education over and above a standard apprenticeship, with extra-curricular activities and pastoral care.

We fully manage the course, giving the apprentices a sound underpinning in engineering and leading to a Level 2 NVQ and a BTEC Level 3 Subsidiary Diploma in Engineering.

During their second and third years, apprentices work on the rail network’s front line, gaining vital experience as they train to become maintenance technicians. They also return to HMS Sultan for further periods of technical training by Network Rail Workforce Development Specialists.

The Advanced Engineering Apprenticeship combines technical engineering training with a comprehensive personal development programme, to develop the specific leadership and management skills required by Network Rail.

Attracting and retaining high-quality people

Babcock is delivering a successful programme which blends academic and vocational training, promotes Network Rail’s work ethic and provides apprentices with the personal and social skills required for the business’s future needs.

The course attracts and helps retain the high-quality personnel Network Rail need to maintain the rail infrastructure, with over 4,000 applications received each year for the 200+ apprenticeship places available.

By the end of 2014, the programme had delivered over 2,000 highly skilled technical engineers to the rail sector.

Babcock’s Engineering Academy achieved a self-assessed Grade 1 at our recent Ofsted inspection as part of the wider Babcock Training contract with grade ones across all five areas of the inspection framework, gaining ‘Beacon Status’, and putting Babcock in the top five per cent of vocational providers in the UK.

Under the Skills Funding Agency Key Performance Indicators, the programme currently delivers a 92% completion rate, and Babcock was awarded ‘Best of British Engineering’ Training Partner of the Year 2016 by the SEMTA Skills Council.

‘We are committed to building a better railway for Britain. By developing the talented and enthusiastic people who come through our apprenticeship scheme we can help create a workforce that is vital to our future success.’

Neal Lawson, Maintenance and Operations Services Director, Network Rail