Simon Pickering Case Study

Simon had always been interested in a career in rail, and took his first steps towards making this a reality when he completed a 12-week Railway Engineering NVQ Level 2 at Manchester College. In 2008 he gained his PTS competency, and started working under Peter Thompson at SkyBlue Solutions.

Simon was a model employee, showing hard work and dedication in all aspects of his work. Working as a trackman in a gang, it was not long before Simon was gaining extra tickets to propel his career within the industry. Completing his Lookout and then his COSS qualification, he became second in command for his gang.

Knowing his career prospects were limited in his gang, Simon made the decision to expand his horizons, and in 2012 he decided to work alone. By 2016 he had successfully upskilled himself to become both a Junior Engineer and Junior Surveyor.

In 2015 Simon’s Mother passed away, which affected him severely. His personal and work life began to suffer, and soon he turned to crime. Consequently, Simon was sentenced to 10 months in Winson Green Prison, losing everything he had worked so hard for.

During his time in Winson Green, Simon attended an employment day held in the prison. INFRA Skills’ Business Development Manager, Rachel Green was also in attendance of this event, promoting the rail, civils and health and safety courses INFRA Skills Ltd can provide, as well as the career opportunities available within the rail sector. Having a vast amount of experience within the rail industry, Simon hoped he would be able to re-join the sector after completing his sentence. Speaking to Rachel, he explained his history and the circumstances that lead to his time in Winson Green, and he was told to get in contact upon his release.

By July 2018 Simon had completed his prison sentence, and keeping her word Rachel invited him in to head office to speak to herself and Rail Director, Peter Thompson. After discussing the training INFRA Skills Ltd could provide as well as the opportunities RSSI could offer, Simon jumped at the chance to continue his career in the rail industry.

Simon was enrolled onto his Personal Track Safety (PTS) course, and since joining RSSI he has also gained his COSS competency. He is now working within a civils gang at ABC Walsall, under the supervision of Nigel Wilkes. Nigel has become a mentor for Simon, not only in work, but in his personal life as well. He commented: “Having previously worked alongside Simon, I knew that he was an extremely hard worker. Since re-joining the industry, I have been mentoring him, helping him to assess and approach situations from a different perspective. I can’t fault Simon’s work ethic, and I am exceptionally pleased with how he is doing. Having received an abundance of support from RSSI and those around him, I hope he continues to stay on track, and develop himself and his skills”.

Peter Thompson (RSSI Rail Director) commented on Simon’s progress since leaving Winson Green Prison: “As a company we are proud of the support we offer to ex-offenders, helping them find employment by reducing the number of barriers facing them. When Simon was released from Winston Green, his enthusiasm and determination to succeed secured him a place at RSSI. Deciding to give him a chance, he has grabbed the opportunity with both hands and is exceeding all expectations. It’s great to see success stories, such as Simon come through the company, and with our continued support I know he will go on to achieve great things.”

Simon is extremely grateful of the opportunities he has been given, and his ambition is to work towards regaining all of his prior qualifications, so he can again be certified as a Track Engineer and Track Surveyor. Without the support of the INFRA Skills Ltd and RSSI staff, Simon is unsure where he would be today, and is working hard to prove to himself and others that you aren’t defined by your past mistakes.