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The major projects helping people take their first steps in rail

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If you’re looking at the rail industry from the outside, it may feel that you have to “work your way up” to be a part of some of the major projects taking place right now.

But nothing could be further from the truth.

In fact, this week has seen two important initiatives making the headlines that want to bring aboard people with little to no experience. The first organisation searching for new team members is the East West Rail project, which is creating a new railway between Oxford and Cambridge.

The East West Rail project is of significant size and scope; improving connections between two iconic cities is no small task: a new civils contract for the programme, alone, is going to be worth £1.1 billion.

Now that project is on the lookout for interns over the summer. These interns will become part of the team for ten weeks in July.

It is open to people living or studying nearby who could fill the following roles:

  • A Digital and Innovation Intern – to support on developing IT solutions for the new railway
  • A Civil or Railway Engineer Intern – to work with the team turning ideas into reality
  • A Systems Architecture Intern– to work within an interdisciplinary team looking at the whole system that will deliver the new railway

Every participant will get a mentor so they can make the most of the experience.

Engineering director at EWR Co, Simon Scott, said: “We’re looking for creative and passionate students to help us at this exciting time for East West Rail. The variety of activity along the route – from early-stage planning in some places to construction in others – means our interns will gain a broad range of experience. We will provide unlimited learning opportunities and space for growth, and in return, we look forward to learning from the fresh perspectives and the unique insights our interns will bring. We can’t wait to watch them flourish as they take their next steps towards successful careers in engineering and emerging digital technologies.”

EWR programme director at Jacobs, John Pelton, said: “We’re committed to nurturing the next generation of engineers and technical professionals, securing a strong pipeline of talent for the infrastructure industry and providing opportunities for young people to work on career-defining projects. East West Rail is at the forefront of the changing rail industry landscape, and we’re excited to be able to offer students the chance to help shape the innovations and systems we’re creating. We look forward to finding some of the most talented and passionate future engineers and digital specialists in the region and welcoming them into Jacobs.”

Fast track programme expands     

But East West Rail is not the only programme throwing open its doors to people from all different walks of life and giving them a chance to join the project of a lifetime.

HS2 has been working with Balfour Beatty Vinci (BBV) and South and City College Birmingham to create a fast-track job training programme, and now  — with more than 30 new people already having gained work on the programme in a short time — it has become bigger.

From June onwards, BBV will expand its course programme and begin providing training in business administration, digital skills and coding to enable candidates to progress into a career in information management or document control. In just 6-8 weeks, trainees will secure the accreditation they need to transition onto a paid work trial with BBV. Candidates who complete the trial will then progress into permanent jobs.

HS2’s skills manager for the West Midlands, Julie Venn Morton, said: “Expanding the courses on offer at the Skills Academy will allow us to reach out to an even more diverse range of job seekers who are looking for a new career and the opportunity to work on HS2.

“The chance to retrain, gain new skills and start earning a wage in just 6-8 weeks is a fantastic opportunity, and we hope this will be a stepping stone to help more people in the West Midlands launch their career on HS2.”

Training will be delivered on a rolling programme, with the first session scheduled to start on Wednesday, 8 June at BBV’s Skills Academy at South and City College’s Bordesley Green campus.

Rail is ready

Dean Bruce, who leads the team at RBD Rail Recruiter, said candidates wanting to get into the industry should not be scared to shoot for the stars.

He said: “People can underestimate who’s out there looking for people just like them – and if they’re not careful, they will miss a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Anyone hoping to make their first steps in the industry – no matter their age or background – should put their best foot forward.

“My advice is to sharpen up your CV and be brave.

“We work with major recruiters looking for people from all backgrounds and all different levels of experience. So it’s best you don’t underestimate where you might find yourself.

“And there is help out there. For example, on our site, we’ve got advice written for everyone, which includes people taking their first step or who are already a name in the sector.

“And furthermore, we use the latest technology to match up the right candidates with some of the biggest recruiters out there. So you never know where your next job-seeking journey in rail might take you.”

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