Our People, Skills and Diversity operational delivery group is chaired by RFM Board Director Laura Cawdell. The overarching purpose of the group is to help ensure that our members have access to the skills they require, now and in the future. We aim to support the development of the next generation of personnel for the industry whilst helping members demonstrate commitment to CSR targets. We also work with partners to help bring suitable ex armed forces personnel into the sector.

Our activities need our members support, primarily through volunteering and occasionally with a bit of funding. In October 2019 we launched our Guidance for Education Engagement Volunteer Opportunities which brings together all the various opportunities for members to get involved. The above guide explains what the various opportunities are and what’s involved.

Access to Mature Talent : Military is Good for Rail

RFM has to date organised two ‘Careers in Rail Days’ in conjunction with the Career Transition Partnership (CTP). CTP exists to help armed forces leavers make the transition to civilian life. Both these events were hugely successful and we have been asked by members to repeat this is an annual event. The 2019 event in April attracted over 20 member companies and 130-140 delegates from across all ranks and services. Delegates heard first hand about jobs in the industry from people who had made the transition previously they then had ample time to meet and network with prospective employers. Keep an eye on our events page for our 2021 Military is Good for Rail event.


Derby College  Rail Skills and Employment Academy.

The academy brings together a number of employers to oversee the curriculum delivered both for apprentices and fulltime students interested in rail and that might be interested in an apprenticeship in the future.  This employer Advisory Board is chaired by Rachel Turner of East Midlands Railway. Each academic year employers provide an Insight into Rail day followed by interviews for those students that are  interested in joining the academy. These students will be offered specialist lectures and visits a rail sector employee as a mentor and possibly a work placement.

UTC Derby Pride Park and the Rail Forum

The University Technical College (UTC) is a specialist engineering school preparing students for careers in the rail industry and other engineering pathways. The UTC has strong links with the Rail Forum Midlands and our Vice-Chair is a governor. Students can join the UTC in Year 9, Year 10 or Year 12, and study GCSEs and A Levels alongside their engineering specialism. The UTC has state-of-the-art facilities designed with Rolls-Royce and works with a variety of employer partners, including Bombardier, Toyota and University of Derby. The aim is to give students the personal, professional and technical skills to succeed in the modern engineering industry, whether as apprentices or through the university route. To find out more about opportunities for students or to offer support as an employer, please visit the website at: www.utcderby.org.uk

Encouraging People to Consider Rail as a Career : iRail Schools Outreach Programme

RFM manage the well established iRail Schools Outreach Programme on behalf of the industry. 2019 was the 10th year of iRail in the East Midlands bringing together teams of year 9 pupils from schools across Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire to take part in a day of industry visits and a rail related STEM ‘challenge’.  Prior to the main iRail event schools were offered a rail related outreach day allowing us to showcase the industry to a much wider group of students. Thanks to our delivery partner Learn by Design securing additional funding we were able to reach over 30 schools in 2019.



Recruiting Apprentices

RFM strongly encourages members to consider recruiting apprentices as this is now a key requirement in public procurement contracts.

Apprenticeships in England are continuing to evolve – both the content / way apprenticeships are delivered and the funding arrangements. New ‘Apprenticeship Standards’ are being introduced, developed by groups of employers, these new standards are designed to deliver more appropriate skills and knowledge required by today’s workforce. A number of new standards are available that might be relevant to members; from rail engineering and manufacturing to professional support services such as business administration and IT to customer service and marketing. The apprenticeship standards set out what the apprentice needs to know (the theory or academic knowledge required) and the competences (practical skills) required for the job.

The link below shows all current rail apprenticeship standards (current at December 2017)

Rail Apprenticeship Standards Updated MO 1217

In order to deliver the apprenticeship employers usually work with either Further Education (FE) colleges or other private sector training providers. The apprentice attends college/formal training provider on either a day or block release basis to complete the academic part of their apprenticeship. They may also gain some practical skills in a safe ‘away from work’ environment. The remainder of their time is spent working with the employer learning in a structured way on the job.

Apprentices should normally be employed. Employers are free to set their own pay rates providing these comply with minimum wage legislation.

Apprenticeships are all assigned ‘levels’ and the majority, but not all, include one or two formal qualifications that the individual must attain to complete their apprenticeship.  In England these levels reflect the English education system and can loosely be regarded as:

Level 2 – operative / semi skilled person

Level 3 – skilled / technician

Level 4 – advanced technician (roughly equivalent to someone studying for HNC)

Level 5/6 – HND and degree level apprenticeship

Level 7 – Masters level apprenticeship

Durations vary with level 2 apprenticeships usually taking 12-18 months to complete and level 3 apprenticeship 3-4 years. Higher levels will depend on the background and previous qualifications/experience of the individual. The minimum duration for an apprenticeship is 12 months.

From April 2017, larger companies have to pay an apprenticeship levy (based on a % of their pay bill) whilst smaller companies may be eligible to claim more funding support than previously. RFM has a number of relationships with colleges and universities to support our members find the right apprenticeships; including higher level and degree/graduate apprenticeships.

Most training providers and colleges will help employers with the recruitment of an apprentice. This might include advertising the opportunity and shortlisting applications. The National Skills Academy for Rail (NSAR) has also recently launched a new service called NSAR Connect which helps signpost unsuccessful good quality candidates from oversubscribed rail schemes (such as Network Rail and Bombardier) to supply chain companies.

The TUC has also produced an apprenticeship toolkit, this is primarily aimed at union representatives but is also a useful reference for employers generally.