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Rail engineering apprenticeship gets government boost

The Railway Engineering Design Technician Apprenticeship Standard has been given government approval.

The standard was developed by the Technician Apprenticeship Consortium (TAC), a collaboration between engineering consultancy firms.

It is one of several new apprenticeships standards approved today by skills and construction minister Nick Boles.

“I’m delighted that the TAC has led the development of a new apprenticeship standard for a railway engineering design technician,” he said.

“The TAC is leading by example in the development and delivery of high quality apprenticeships that give people the chance of successful careers and help businesses get the skills they need to grow.”

The government is also launching a creative campaign to boost the profile of apprenticeships among young people, with real apprentices sharing their own thoughts and experiences across social media sites.

TAC is a consortium of six of the UK’s largest engineering consultancy firms, including Arup, Capita Symonds, CH2M Hill, Hyder, Mott MacDonald and WSP. The consortium is supported by the Association for Consultancy & Engineering (ACE).

TAC led the development of the Railway Engineering Design Technician Apprenticeship Standard. Employers wanted to meet the challenges of improving the UK’s rail infrastructure and expand the pool of skilled technicians to succeed an ageing workforce of existing engineers.

Dr Nelson Ogunshakin, chief executive at ACE, said: “TAC is an example of a very successful industry-led initiative guiding over 700 young people into apprenticeship places in its first four years of operation.  It is clear to me that the optimism of ACE member companies, large and small, is tempered by a concern that they are finding it difficult and expensive to recruit and retain the highly skilled staff they need to deliver their projects.  With an ageing workforce and a potential shortage of graduates the situation is only going to get worse.  The sector as a whole urgently needs to find new ways to access and train the next generation of professional engineers.”

Karen Hoad, from CH2M Hill and industry chair of the Railway Engineering Design Technician Trailblazer Apprenticeship group, said: “The trailblazer scheme is enabling talented young people to develop the professional qualifications required for a career in the engineering sector whilst playing a vital role in plugging the skills gap that is present in the UK’s engineering workforce today.

“The apprenticeship provides apprentices with a professional qualification and the ability to pursue a long career in a growing, exciting sector whilst employers to maintain a strong, diverse workforce and help build the next generation of engineers.”

The National Skills Academy for Railway Engineering (NASRE) also worked on the apprenticeship standard.  Elaine Clark, head of training and skills, said: “NSARE is delighted to have supported the work undertaken by employers for the Railway Engineering Design Technician Apprenticeship Standard.  In particular the clear link to Professional Engineering Institution ‘Engineering Technician’ status is something we and many of our employer members’ support. The new standard is an important addition to the apprenticeship options for the industry, the Railway Engineering Design Technician Apprenticeship will form an initial building block as part of the broader review of apprenticeship frameworks now being considered and planned by industry employers.”

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