Network Rail

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Apprentices play a key role in building a long-lasting legacy

Network Rail’s ethos is to not only to operate an outstanding railway infrastructure, it’s about building a long-lasting legacy for the industry.

Apprenticeships play a key part in achieving this legacy, by supporting the best young talent and developing skills for their future workforce.

Network Rail has recruited 15 apprentices from The Apprentice Academy since 2011, with many now enjoying a successful career. Some of these have achieved promotions in a short space of time, testimony to the support the apprentices receive from both Network Rail and The Apprentice Academy.

While Network Rail is renowned for its infrastructure projects, its ‘shared services’ function, a consolidation of business operations used by multiple parts of the business, is instrumental in delivering greater efficiencies and bringing significant value to the business.

There are currently over 350 business support staff based at the company’s headquarters in Square One near Piccadilly, working across the full range of services including HR, IT, finance and communications.

Joshua Bennett and Jennifer Robinson started as Business ‘Shared Services’ Apprentices in September 2011. Both now have permanent positions with Network Rail after completing an apprenticeship that saw them gain experience across a full range of departments and specialisms.

Josh National RailJosh, 20, a former student at Marple Hall, and Cheadle and Marple Sixth Form College, is a Business Analyst and now leads a variety of different projects at Network Rail. Since staring college, Josh had a weekend job and realised that he liked to learn while he earned rather than furthering his career though further education.

Josh comments: “When I initially thought of an apprenticeship I had the idea that and apprentice was just for the ‘tea run!

“I couldn’t be more wrong. From the beginning, I was involved with all the activities the other team members were doing, I was fully trained to the same standard as my colleagues and my role and responsibilities were matched to everyone else.”

During his first year, Josh gained a valuable insight into different part of the company, working and learning across multiple departments including IT, HR and finance. This gave him a solid foundation to develop his professional and social skills further.

In particular, Josh enjoyed working as a business analyst and was thrilled to be offered this a permanent position. His duties include managing change projects within the business support services team, facilitating workshops, managing stakeholder relationships, identifying improvements and cost savings and pitching ideas to senior managers.

Josh is the youngest business analyst on the team and has performed beyond expectations. He works with a host of people from administrators to senior managers and directors, and has the autonomy to manage his own time and workload.

Josh continues: “I am given full responsibility to manage my time and workload, and am given the freedom to manage the work project the way I feel is best for the department – with some great support from manager and colleagues.”

“I feel an equal within the organisation and am trusted to manage the work projects the way I feel is best for the department – with some amazing support from my colleagues and managers. My decision to pursue an apprenticeship was definitely a great choice of career – it’s a great role with a great company.”

Jennifer National RailJennifer Robinson, 21, from Oldham left the Bluecoat School & Sixth Form, with 11 GCSE’s and 4 A-levels (3 ‘A’s). She didn’t want to go to university as was unsure what she wanted to study. After a friend’s recommendation, Jennifer applied for Network Rail’s apprenticeship scheme and is now a successful business analyst.

During her first year, Jennifer rotated around three departments – HR, IT and finance, gathering the necessary experience to complete her qualification. Key tasks included inputting data, organising HR recruitment interviews, answering helpdesk calls, doing bank runs and much more.

In her second year, Jennifer focused on the department of her choice, information management (IM). She was offered a permanent position here and her work and efforts in adding significant value was well recognised by the business.

After a year on the IM helpdesk, Jennifer moved to a role on the Incident Management team, where she continues to work.

Her work efforts are well recognised and she has received a number of accolades during her career including a ‘Customer Driven’ star award and a nomination for a WISE (Woman in Science and Engineering) award.

Jennifer says: “I’ve received some great feedback and have taken on extra responsibilities as a result. This includes training new starters, being placed on a more senior ‘Stepping Up’ scheme on the helpdesk, attending the black tie WISE awards, and being appointed as a Network Rail NW Diversity & Inclusion Champion.

“The whole experience has been amazing. I’m so happy to have secured a permanent role with Network Rail, and look forward to having a long and fruitful future here.”