Apprenticeship week: Comeback for Generation X

The UK’s second-largest train operator has used National Apprenticeship Week to urge Generation X to consider applying to its ‘industry-leading’ apprenticeship scheme.

Northern said that while it was encouraging those born between 1965 and 1980 to apply for roles including train drivers and conductors that require no previous practical experience, ‘they are a great opportunity for people of any age looking to try something completely new’.

The firm said it is the largest provider of apprentice opportunities in the rail industry, with almost 600 apprentices in roles such as conductors, drivers, engineering and business administration.

Chief operating officer Tricia Williams said: ‘The days when being an apprentice meant you were someone just out of school or college are long gone. But that perception remains and it can be a barrier to more experienced people who might otherwise be interested in those roles.

‘All manner of previous career experiences have transferable skills that the rail industry can benefit from. It’s a very exciting sector to work in and starting as an apprentice is a great way to get your foot in the door.’

Katy Bailey (pictured), a 53-year-old mother of four and former mental health worker from Leeds is one of the latest apprentices to complete training with Northern is.

Now a fully qualified conductor, she said: ‘Learning on the job from people with years of experience has really worked for me, and as an older apprentice I bring valuable skills from my previous jobs to this new career.’

Northern is hosting a number of online recruitment events for its apprenticeship scheme over the coming weeks, details for which can be found here.

Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), Britain’s largest franchise, said the number of apprentices it took on in 2021 exceeded targets by 20% as people aged 31 to 40 looked to make career switches and return to work.

GTR said it has provided new career opportunities for 239 people, aged from 16 to over 61, with the 31–40 age group accounting for almost 40% of the total number of apprentices from 2017 to 2021.

It said it had also tried to attract more female and Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) applicants. More than a third (34%) of new recruits this year were women, while 27% identified as BME.

GTR said its apprenticeship programme is open to people of all ages and backgrounds and it is seeking to reach as diverse a range of potential applicants as possible to support the creation of a more inclusive industry.

To support this GTR is collaborating with partners including, Not Going To Uni, Socially Recruited, RMP Enterprise, The Association for BME Engineers and Springpod.

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