Thousands of new female engineering apprenticeships will be created following an agreement between the Department for Transport (DfT) and rail operators.
Crossrail, Transport for London, HS2 , Network Rail and Highways England will work to new target contracts focused on more getting more women into engineering and technical apprenticeships, increasing the number of females employed in the transport sector.
The plans form part of the DfT’s multi-billion pound road and rail investment programme to create 30,000 new apprenticeships in the road and rail sector by 2020.
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: “Our record investment in the transport system won’t just deliver new world-class infrastructure, it will create opportunity for people across the UK by guaranteeing apprenticeships through contracts.
“We are creating thousands of high quality careers across the country, many of which are cutting edge, highly technical and require Britain’s best minds.”
The new commitment forms a major part of the DfT’s new Transport Infrastructure Skills Strategy, developed by Crossrail chair Terry Morgan CBE, to work alongside rail operators and their suppliers to ensure apprenticeships are at the heart of contracts.
From March 2016 contracts for transport infrastructure projects will include targets to create new apprenticeships.
The changes are to provide a continuous line of skilled workers as the government funds the biggest rail modernisation since Victorian times, and the most extensive improvements to roads since the 1970s.
The strategy builds on projects such as Crossrail, which has created over 500 apprenticeships through contract arrangements since 2009.
Women still a minority within the sector
Crossrail chair and strategy author Terry Morgan CBE said: “As we have seen on Crossrail, by working with our suppliers we can help young people begin long and successful careers in an exciting and nationally important sector.
“To create a workforce capable of delivering the unprecedented number of transport projects in the pipeline it is vital we increase the number of apprentices and attract more women into the industry.”
With women only representing 20% of employees in the rail industry, and 4.4% in engineering roles, the strategy has defined more high calibre women are needed to help deliver the investment in transport infrastructure.
In addition to creating a more diverse workforce, the government has also recommended all organisations with over 250 employees to implement a ‘returnship’ programme to make it easier for people, and women in particular, to return to work after time out.
HS2 Ltd CEO Simon Kirby said: “It’s clear that, as an industry, we need to get much better at building higher level skills. We also need to get much better at attracting and retaining a more diverse workforce.”
Both Network Rail and TfL are currently recruiting for their 2016 apprenticeship schemes, with a wide range of roles and locations available.
Those interested can apply now online or search the Network Rail and TfL 2016 apprenticeships schemes, which opened this month for new applicants.