Tyne and Wear Metro is as vulnerable to skills shortages as any other railway operating company.
Now Nexus, the public body which owns and manages the Metro, has taken a new cohort of trainees, whose ages range from 17 to 34, onto its apprenticeship scheme as it seeks to address the challenges of an ageing workforce and a national engineering skills shortage.
This is an ongoing programme as Nexus has successfully recruited 54 apprentices since 2013, with most of them going on to secure permanent full-time employment after serving their time as trainees.
Most of the latest recruits will be training as railway engineers, earning them the requisite skills needed to look after Metro’s trains, the 77km network of tracks and other key pieces of infrastructure, including Nexus’ fleet of ticket vending machines, whilst others will be working within key business units in Nexus.
There are also roles for apprentices in other departments, including rail timetable planning and information technology.
Heather Blevins, head of learning at Nexus, said: “Apprenticeships are vital for the long term future of the Tyne and Wear Metro.
“Vocational training is a great route for young people to go down. They learn a bespoke trade and then have a good chance of getting a permanent job at the end of the apprenticeship.
“They will get first class training, opening the door to a brilliant career in the railway and public transport industry. t a time when there is a skills shortage in this sector it is vital that we invest in training and development to ensure that we continue to deliver the essential services to our passengers for many more years to come.”
The rail engineering apprentices get training on the job and at Newcastle College’s Rail Academy, a bespoke facility which offers a unique training environment to help the railway industry meet its skill shortages by providing a range of specialist training dedicated to rail infrastructure.
In 2015 Nexus recruited its first female engineering apprentices in more than two decades. Samantha Corkin and Morgan Saville have both since gone on to secure permanent jobs at Nexus.
To deliver this training, Nexus is working in partnership with four providers: Newcastle College, Gateshead College, Train’d up and QA Limited.