RFEM’s ‘People and Skills’ workstream supports the local delivery of the national Rail Sector Skills Delivery Plan. We have 3 key areas of focus:
- Encouraging young people to consider a career in rail and to study STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Maths) subjects
- Encouraging employers to support the recruitment of more apprentices and graduates
- Facilitating employer access to ‘mature’ talent e.g. people leaving the armed forces
2018 is the Year of Engineering; a year long government backed campaign that aims to raise the awareness of the breadth of careers available and to inspire more young people to consider engineering as a career. RFEM is proud to support this important initiative through our industry leading iRail Schools Outreach Programme.
Encouraging People to Consider Rail as a Career : iRail Schools Outreach Programme
RFEM manage the well established iRail Schools Outreach Programme on behalf of the industry. Now in its 9th year in the East Midlands iRail brings 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’. Opportunity is also taken on the day to brief teachers about the wide variety of opportunities the industry has to offer. Prior to the main event schools are offered a rail related outreach day allowing us to showcase the industry to a much wider group of students.
In the Year of Engineering we are delighted that iRail will also be offered in Birmingham and in Crewe allowing us to reach around 10,000 young people across the Midlands.
In order to run iRail we need a lot of employer support. This includes sponsorship to help pay for the main iRail challenge events and involvement on the day to support the individual school teams and to provide a mentor to act as a sounding board on the ideas that the teams are developing.
Thanks to some government funding many of the outreach days into the schools are now funded, however we still need sponsorship for those days that are not covered by the funding and to run the main iRail events in Derby, Birmingham and Crewe. We are also working on a ‘grand final’ event where the winners of the three regional heats will compete for the overall title of iRail Champions 2018. More to follow on this shortly.
More information about iRail can be found in the What is iRail Leaflet
RFEM is strongly encouraging members to consider recruiting apprentices as this is now a key requirement in public procurement contracts.
Apprenticeships in England are changing – 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)
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. RFEM 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.
RFEM has been working closely with Derby College to establish a 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 Porterbrook Leasing. The academy has now recruited its first intake of engineering students and will be recruiting students from other disciplines potentially including IT, business management, finance, sales and marketing and more in due course.
If you want to find out more about apprenticeships or funding RFEM are here to help. We can also provide more detail about what apprenticeship standards are available that might be suitable for your business.
The TUC has also produced an apprenticeship toolkit, this is primarily aimed at union representatives but is also a useful reference for employers generally.
Access to Mature Talent
Late in 2016 RFEM organised a ‘Careers in Rail Day’ in conjunction with the Career Transition Partnership (CTP). CTP exists to help armed forces leavers make the transition to civilian life. This was a hugely successful event attended by 20 member companies and attracting well over 100 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. RFEM will look to offer similar events in future for our members.