Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), the UK’s largest rail operator, has launched its first ever Sector-based Work Academy Programme (SWAP) with East Sussex College, despite the onset of a second national lockdown.
After training and preparing 12 local candidates for employment, the programme is now close to completion.
The SWAP, designed in partnership with Sussex Skills Solutions (part of East Sussex College) and Jobcentre Plus, aims to break down barriers that many people face when seeking employment. Targeted at those who are long-term unemployed or who aren’t in training or education (NEET – Not in Education, Employment or Training), the programme has given candidates the opportunity to develop essential employability skills whilst gaining qualifications.
Interviews are now underway for two permanent, full-time roles at GTR’s Southern stations.
This new partnership builds on the success of the operator’s established ‘Get into Railways’ programme with the Prince’s Trust, which is now in its sixth year. So far, 94% of participants have successfully completed the programme.
GTR’s SWAP with Sussex Skills Solutions supports the government’s aim to help communities that would otherwise be left behind.
Southern managing director Angie Doll said: “We’re committed to providing support in the communities we serve and feel it is more important than ever to help people in society that may be at risk of exclusion.
“With unemployment rates increasing, we’re proud to have worked with East Sussex College on a dedicated Sector-based Work Academy Programme aimed at upskilling unemployed individuals to get them ready for the world of work. This is just part of our wider strategy to enable social mobility.”
The four-week training programme launched on Monday 2 November and enrolled candidates via the Jobcentre Plus teams in Hove, Worthing and Bognor Regis. All of the candidates were able to benefit from face-to-face teaching for the first three days.
From Thursday 5 November, in line with the national lockdown, the course moved to blended virtual learning with online lectures and one-to-one support from assessors. To follow social distancing measures, the candidates were split into two smaller groups of six for physical lessons.
On completing the course, each individual will be presented with a qualification in Employability, a Level 2 certificate in Equality & Diversity, and a bespoke Southern Rail training certificate on managing customer relations. They will also have a guaranteed interview with Southern for two available Gate Line roles at stations between Littlehampton and Hove, to begin in the new year.