VGC has comfortably exceeded the ambitious 2015 target of more than five apprentices per 100 workers.
Over 50 people are doing NVQs on the Track Partnership contract, and other apprentices are working on projects including Crossrail. Another group of apprentices is due to start shortly.
VGC’s apprenticeship programme starts with 13 weeks of classroom and on-track training, conducted by either Fastline in Rainham or Arc Academy in Watford. At the end of this period, our managers interview the apprentices, and discuss where they’d like to work. Those who are interested in a career in London Underground are invited to join the Track Partnership apprenticeship programme.
Apprentices receive the usual rates of pay for the job, as well as support for their training. They are placed in gangs with experienced foremen, carefully selected to support and develop them. Trainers meet them once a week as they prepare for NVQ Level 2 in Rail Engineering Underpinning Knowledge, which is usually gained around nine months after starting the apprenticeship.
Once apprentices have passed the NVQ they can then progress their long-term careers within VGC, with the possibility of becoming foremen, and then supervisors. After that, the opportunities for promotion are nearly limitless.
For example, Terry Dutton-Wells, who became VGC’s HSQE director in 2002, started his career as an apprentice welder. (Now semi-retired, he maintains a role within VGC as a non-executive director.) “Rail is a great career,” he says. “It offers so many openings in numerous disciplines. You get the opportunity to look at where you want to be in any aspect of the broad spectrum of industry activities.”
VGC has supplied labour to Track Partnership, the alliance of Balfour Beatty and London Underground that maintains the LU network, for over 12 years.
Rudy Osborne started his apprenticeship in summer 2015. Read about Rudy’s apprenticeship.