How we encourage young people and those who don’t traditionally apply to join us

With an expected national skills gap and a predicted shortfall of technical people in transport, it’s more important than ever to encourage applications from young people and those who don’t traditionally apply for jobs in the rail industry.

Early engagement activity

Over the next 10 years we’ll need an extra 1.8 million engineers, and by 2019 the transport sector will be short of 10,000 skilled workers. We need to do as much as possible to encourage young people to study STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects.

Our schools engagement programme has expanded to encourage an early interest in these subjects. We’re also working with our staff networks and initiatives such as Tomorrow’s Engineers.

We are proud to support the Sir Simon Milton Westminster UTC.

Apprenticeship programme

Our apprenticeship scheme has been running for 10 years, and 83 per cent of those who started on the scheme a decade ago are still working for the organisation today. We’re incredibly proud of what our apprentices have gone on to achieve.

A schools outreach programme was launched to promote the scheme. As part of this, we:

  • signed up 110 ambassadors
  • contacted 600 schools
  • attended 162 school events
  • and as a result 3,500 people registered interest before applications opened in January 2015.

We also focused on creating partnerships to raise the profile of our scheme, for example with Plotr, and used positive news stories to change perceptions and target difficult to reach groups.

Diversity of apprentice intake since 2014

 2014 intake2015 intake2016 intake2017 intake
Women graduates24%29%30%44%
BAME graduates18%31%51%47%

Graduate scheme

Last year we focused on increasing graduate hires from under-represented groups. We identified the barriers for these groups and put in place an outreach strategy to encourage applications, particularly from female engineers.

We also invested in selection tools to remove bias, as well as e-learning with information on diversity and inclusion for all hiring managers. The results speak for themselves…

Diversity of graduate intake since 2014

 2014 intake2015 intake2016 intake2017 intake
Women graduates24%29%30%44%
BAME graduates18%31%51%47%

Diversity of engineering graduate since 2014

 2014 intake2015 intake2016 intake2017 intake
Women engineering graduates6%16%11%10%
BAME engineering graduatesNot recorded44%51%58%

Work placements

The rail industry sometimes struggles to recruit, especially engineers. That’s why we work with specialist agencies to identify talent that may otherwise go unrecognised.

We’re on the advisory panel for Transitions, an organisation that supports refugees, many of them qualified, experienced engineers who would otherwise struggle to find work despite having full employment rights. We’ve arranged work placements for candidates within Network Rail and have hosted and attended industry seminars and meetings.

We’re also collaborating with the Spinal Injuries Association, recently securing a permanent role in HR for one of their trainees.

Barclays Life Skills work experience opportunities

We’ve partnered with the Barclays Life Skills Scheme so that opportunities for work experience with us are less dependent on candidates knowing or being related to an existing employee. The scheme engages teachers from over 5,000 registered schools across Britain to help select who enjoys the opportunity.

Network Rail partnered schemes