South Western Railway will be taking on nine new apprentices this year, with applications for the vacancies open until midnight on Sunday 22 November.
The four-year SWR apprenticeship scheme is geared towards developing highly skilled train technicians and has an impressive retention rate of 98%. Each apprentice divides their time between training college and gaining valuable workplace experience, giving them the opportunity to learn while they earn. Successful applicants can expect to receive a salary of £20,577 in the first year, increasing to £25,306 by year four (plus regional allowance).
Nicole Perkins is in her second year of an operational management and engineering apprenticeship and is based at Bournemouth depot. She said: “I honestly believe there is no better route into a career in engineering than an apprenticeship – I can assure you, they’re not just for 16-year olds.
“I get to learn things on the job that I could never be taught in the classroom, while earning a good salary, but I will still come out of this with a university degree – something I never thought was for me. I wish I’d known about this option sooner and can only encourage anyone hoping to pursue this as a career path to just go ahead and apply.”
Emmanuel Addo-Asiedu, based at Wimbledon depot, is currently in the fourth year of his rolling stock apprenticeship. He commented: “Apprenticeships are the best route into a skilled job, and a railway apprenticeship is a one in a million opportunity. Not only are you learning, but you’re putting what you’ve learnt into practice, which I think is the best way to really develop your skills.
“I joined SWR’s apprenticeship scheme a bit older than some others – people often think apprenticeships are only for people in a certain age range but that’s just not true. The scheme requires a lot of hard work, and there have been some challenging times along the way, but nothing good in life comes easy.
“I’ve been really fortunate here that I have so much support from all the managers and I particularly value the little ‘work family’ I’ve created with the other apprentices.”
Apprenticeship candidates need at least four GCSE grades A to C including Maths, English and Science or any other relevant further education. Rob Hulson, SWR’s engineering apprentice and graduate manager, shared his top tips to help make your application really stand out:
- Your hobbies and interests can give us real insight into your suitability for the role – think about how you spend your free time and any specific activities that bear direct relevance to the job. For example, do you do lots of DIY around the house? Are you a keen cyclist and do all your own bike repairs?
- Make sure you really understand the role you are applying for – particularly the level of commitment an apprenticeship requires – and your reasons for applying. Lack of preparation, even at this early stage, is obvious
- Ensure we can feel your enthusiasm in your application, genuine excitement about an opportunity can sometimes make all the difference when it comes to standing out
Rob added: “The railway is such a great place to forge a career, and we would strongly encourage applicants from the communities we serve and beyond, from all backgrounds, to consider these opportunities.
“The apprenticeship scheme is hard work, and you will be challenged every day, but if this is a prospect that will energise and excite you, then not only are you probably the right person for the role, but hopefully this will mean you become a key part of our workforce once the four-year scheme is complete.”