The first eight apprentices have signed up for the new accredited qualification in Wales for train driving.
The new professional qualification differs from England’s apprenticeship because it’s a Level 3 qualification, not a standard.
It is fully funded by the Welsh Government’s apprenticeship scheme and not the apprenticeship levy, since Wales doesn’t have one.
Mick Whelan, general secretary of ASLEF, the train drivers’ union, said: “We are thrilled that the first ever accredited qualification in train driving, in Wales, is, finally, in place. It proves that persistence pays off because this is something that we have been pushing for, for years. And I note that it is only under a Welsh government – a Labour government – that it has happened.
“Transport for Wales is planning on recruiting 100 train drivers every year for the next five years and they will all be given the chance to gain this qualification. It’s a great step forward for training, for train drivers, for the railway, and for Wales.”
Following the development of the Level 3 train driving standard in England, ASLEF decided, two and a half years ago, to pursue an equivalent qualification in Wales.
Emma Penman, project worker at the ASLEF Education: Learning Partnership Programme, worked closely with Deri Bevan of the Wales TUC to lobby TfW for support.
“It was an arduous process,” Emma commented as the scheme was launched. “These things are tricky and take time and, at one point, it looked as if the whole thing would collapse as the number of apprenticeships on offer was thought to be too low to warrant the development of the framework.
“But, in February last year, I contacted Ken Skates, the Minister for Economy, Transport & North Wales, and he offered his support. In September last year ASLEF rep Ian Thompson and I met TfW, Coleg Y Cymoedd, the apprenticeship provider partner, and EAL, the specialist skills awarding body, coming together to form a working group to develop the qualification.
“It was agreed, like the English standard, it would be set at a Level 3 and developed under the Welsh apprenticeship framework to included essential skills Level 2 (literacy, numeracy, and ICT) and EAL developed a standalone vocational qualification in train driving called the Level 3 diploma in train driving. We got approval in February and sign up our first apprentices tomorrow!”