Second and third years

In the second and third years of the scheme, you will be working as part of an engineering maintenance team in your chosen location. At the same time, you will be working towards NVQ Level 3 in railway engineering, and this will involve a combination of rail-specific technical courses, work experience and formal assessments.

This is the time when the first year of your technical training will come into its own. Now you’ll be out and about working with experienced colleagues, possibly as teams of four or five. The work is mainly outdoors, and that’s one of the things that appeals to all our apprentices.

Essentially you will be ‘one of the team’ – and as such you’ll need to make sure you work well in the team and take on responsibility when you need to, and keep learning from the people around you. There will be a wide variety of work involved in what you are doing; and because you’ll also be studying for an NVQ at the same time, you’ll need to manage your time well.

Several times a year, you will also return to HMS Sultan to attend rail-specific technical training courses, using the wide range of railway equipment on site which replicates equipment found on the railway. These will be run by a team of experienced rail engineers. In the third year, in addition to completing further technical training, there will be specific supervisory training. This includes a dedicated five-day leadership training course, which can lead to the achievement of the ILM Level 3 in First Line Management.

Throughout there’s a lot to take in and a lot of responsibility to take on. But by the end of the scheme, you will have the foundation to make a real mark within Network Rail.

‘The reality of the job’

“At 3am on a November morning, your lips are blue, the rain is running off your nose, and you have a challenging deadline to meet. And yet you still know that this is exactly what you want to be doing. (There are also lovely sunny days where the birds are singing and the sky is blue.)”