Rail engineering apprentices’ careers on track with VGC

Rail engineering apprentices’ careers on track with VGC

Apprentices from the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London (CONEL) have reached the first milestone in their new careers.

They will return to the college for the day on Friday 27 January, as part of their NVQ qualification process.

The apprentices joined VGC Group last autumn. Each was placed within a skilled team, supported by an experienced mentor, as part of the workforce we are providing to ATC Systemwide, a joint venture of Alstom Transport, TSO and Costain.

They are working for ATC to install track, switches and crossings across a large section of the Crossrail route.

After working in the ‘real world’ in a variety of trades over the past three months, the apprentices’ first college release day will include a learning review and online assessment training. They are working on their Level 2 Diploma in Railway Engineering after successfully completing a ten-week pre-apprenticeship programme at CONEL.

‘A huge opportunity’

David Williams Sarpong
David Williams Sarpong

Apprentice David Williams Sarpong, 19, said: “I’ve always been interested in railway engineering: my apprenticeship is a big deal. It is a huge opportunity to work on one of the biggest engineering projects in the country, which will be great for my experience.”

Josiah Narkwa
Josiah Narkwa

Another apprentice, Josiah Narkwa, 19, added: “Apprenticeships give you better training in the skills you need to do the job and you get to work on real life projects. What you put in, you get out.

“Hopefully this will be the start of a really good career for me.”

Nick Wells, our labour manager, supervises the apprentices on site.

He said: “I was very impressed by the depth and breadth of learning experiences offered by the college. The apprentices were really lucky to get such excellent training. It is the best I’ve ever seen, and gave them a thorough preparation for their working careers.

“Not only have they been given access to qualifications which will give them an excellent start on site, they’ve also been given skills which will set them up for life in general.”

Acknowledging VGC’s stringent selection criteria, Jackie Chapman, director of employability and employer engagement at CONEL, said: “I am delighted that these apprentices are starting their careers with a company that offers support and long-term career opportunities for its people.

“This is an example of a great partnership between employers and CONEL. We designed our pre-apprenticeship programme based on the skills needs within the industry, and we’re pleased with the opportunities it has given these young people.

“We look forward to this partnership expanding as the rail projects across the UK continue to develop.”

The ATC Systemwide project is part of the £14.8 billion Crossrail project to create a 73 mile railway from Reading and Heathrow through central London to Shenfield and Abbey Wood. VGC expects to take on more apprentices from the college later this spring.

Main photograph: VGC apprentices from L to R – Daniel Smith, Josiah Narkwa, Daniel Pang, David Williams Sarpong, Ersin Behceci, Arasalan Aleem and Ezra Pacquette.