Two apprentices working with laptop and notes in breakout area

Early and wider engagement

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.

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 for 2014 and 2015

2014 intake2015 intakeNational engineering apprentice stats
Women4%5%4%
BAME9%11%4%

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 for 2014 and 2015

2014 intake2015 intakeNR workforce 2015
Women graduates24%29%16%
BAME graduates18%31%6%

Diversity of engineering graduate intake for 2014 and 2015

2014 intake2015 intakeNational engineering workforce
Women engineering graduates6%16%8%
BAME engineering graduatesNot recorded44%6%

In 2015 we also:

  • re-entered The Times Top 100 Undergraduate Employer list
  • were ranked 54th in the Top 100 undergraduate placements list by Rate My Placement
  • were ranked 79th in the Job Crowd’s Top Companies for Graduates to Work For.

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

Disability Confident

In early 2016, the Department for Work and Pensions replaced the Two-Ticks Positive about Disability Accreditation scheme with The Disability Confident scheme.

Developed by employers and disabled people’s representatives, this voluntary scheme aims to help organisations through access to expert guidance, self-assessments and resources, helping them successfully recruit, develop and retain disabled people.