INFRA Skills (ATS) Limited, a subsidiary of Auctus Management Group Limited, have partnered with Colas Rail to launch the UK’s first Level 3 Trailblazers Rail Apprenticeship scheme.
The UK Government has introduced new Apprenticeship Standards (known as Trailblazers) which will replace the existing Apprenticeship Frameworks from 2017 onwards. The changes put the onus on employers to develop the new Standards, end point assessment plans and delivery models.
ATS, who have been awarded a ‘Gold Standard’ by the National Skills Academy for Rail (NSAR), worked in collaboration with Colas Rail to design a bespoke apprenticeship that focused on creating a program that provides learners with a route into the rail sector and that hones their scientific, technical, engineering, mathematical and design skillsets.
As a leading voice within the industry, NSAR are supporting ATS and Colas Rail in their mission to make Rail Apprenticeships more flexible and focussed on the needs of the sector. ‘A key strategic priority for NSAR this year has been to drive the benefits of Apprenticeships and so we are absolutely delighted that two of our member organisations, INFRA Skills and Colas Rail have collaborated to develop this Apprenticeship scheme. From the research that NSAR has undertaken the demand for high quality L3 and above apprenticeships is set to grow and so the launch of this apprenticeship scheme is not only needed but welcomed by the industry’. Kim Millen, Chief Operating Officer, NSAR.
The Permanent Way Institution is a professional body for UK track engineers and provides technical knowledge, advice and support to those engaged in rail infrastructure systems.
“We are delighted to be offering each apprentice free membership to the PWI, which permits them to use ‘MPWI’ after their name and illustrates their commitment to professional development. Upon completion of the apprenticeship and attaining their level 3 qualification, each learner will have gained a significant amount of track experience proportionate to the level needed to register with the Engineering Council as Engineering Technicians, certifying them as ‘EngTech MPWI’. As part of the training, we encourage each learner to attend PWI meetings and events and it is highly recommended that they use technical books, journals and guides.” Dr Brian Counter, Technical Director for The PWI.
As part of this joint initiative, ATS will be supporting the apprentices as they work towards developing their knowledge and skills required to complete the three core areas of the scheme.
The apprenticeship will begin with the Level 3 Rail Engineering Technician Knowledge (Track) which aims to provide learners with the fundamental knowledge of assessing the condition of the infrastructure, following the completion of maintenance, inspection and/or renewal work. Furthermore, the course units will help learners in establishing track geometry and position, analysing data attained from visual or vehicular inspections as well as planning and monitoring permanent way activities which covers the methods used for allocating resources as well as establishing the performance and condition of assets. The underpinning knowledge that they have learnt throughout the course will provide them with sufficient grounding on which to develop their understanding of implementing and monitoring safe working systems for permanent way maintenance or renewal activities.
Upon completion of the first section of the apprenticeship, apprentices will move on to learn the skills needed to gain safe access to Overhead Line Equipment (OLE) construction sites. The Level 3 Rail Engineering Technician Knowledge (OLE) will cover installation of small part steelworks, contact wiring, sectioning, insulation, registration and in-span components as well as providing an in-depth overview on how to enhance or renew OLE earthing and bonding cables. The course will also allow learners to gain extensive experience in completing testing, gauging and acceptance of OLE.
The final part of the apprenticeship will see the apprentices developing their understanding of signal engineering, as part of the Level 3 Diplomas for Rail Engineering Technicians Competence (Signalling). Apprentices will be provided with a comprehensive framework that covers signalling equipment maintenance, fault finding, installation or testing. To further enhance the apprentice’s knowledge of signal engineering, the learners will cover the process for creating plans, resource management, schedules, diagrams, records and specifications as well as ensuring they comply with safety regulations and procedures.
By focusing on these core areas, the course will help reduce the number of barriers that many young people face when trying to gain employment and, in turn, offer successful graduates exciting opportunities within a booming sector that continues to receive extensive investment.
Dave Anderson, Technical Competency Manager at Colas Rail, commented that: “The delegates have been really positive about the course and the trainers. This has been the best scheme I have been involved with since joining the railway and I am proud to be a part of it.”
Richard Toy, CEO of Auctus Management Group Limited, said that: “The unveiling of the UK’s first Trailblazers Apprenticeship illustrates how ATS and Colas Rail are committed to developing a lasting legacy that will help the UK Government to meet its productivity targets through an increased number of apprentices, as well as create opportunities within a sector that is currently suffering from skills shortages and an aging workforce. By delivering an apprenticeship that meets the industry’s needs, we are helping the sector to remain sustainable and grow whilst inspiring a new generation of industry leaders.”