First class apprenticeship scheme

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Bondholder East Midlands Trains, part of Stagecoach Group, is the first in the UK to pioneer a new level three train driver apprenticeship programme which is designed to support the industry’s commitment to grow its skills base and further professionalise the train driver role.

Launched last week by the new Rail Minister Andrew Jones, the new train driver apprenticeship programme, which is part of the National Driver Academy, is now underway at the train operator’s academy in Derby. Nine new drivers are the first to test the new common approach to Part A as part of the Level 3 Apprenticeship Standard.

The new Apprenticeship Standard, which has been designed to reflect the professionalism needed for the train driver’s role, will allow successful trainees to secure a formal certification. It has been developed in partnership with the drivers union ASLEF; the Rail Safety and Standards Board; Rail Delivery Group; the Institute of Railway Operators and the National Skills Academy for Rail. The Apprenticeship Standard will be applicable to all train operators and freight operators in England.

The rail industry is planning to train more than 1000 drivers next year with all train operators moving to use the new Driver Academy over 2019. East Midlands Trains will train around 30-40 new apprentice drivers over the next year.

Rail Minister Andrew Jones, who met the new driver apprentices in Derby said: “I am delighted to launch the Train Driver Apprenticeship Programme, a project which will recruit a new generation of drivers with the skills and management to provide more reliable journeys for passengers.

“This initiative follows the recent completion of vital infrastructure upgrades at Derby Station, and helps prepare the East Midlands for the arrival of modern, fast and efficient intercity and express trains.”

Kirsty Derry, HR Director for East Midlands Trains and Chair of the Driver Academy, said: “Train drivers are key to delivering great customer service, and with the industry’s exciting investment in technology it was clear that there was a skills and capability gap developing across the entire sector.

“That’s why we’ve been working with the Academy members, Department for Transport, ASLEF and safety and skills bodies across the industry to develop a solution to this skills challenge and take this significant step forward in professionalising the train driver role.

“We’re delighted to be leading the way, piloting the new common approach to Part A Level 3 Apprenticeship training at East Midlands Trains, and we look forward to working with the rest of the industry to roll this out further.”

A total of nine new drivers are trialling the new apprenticeship scheme, coming from a variety of backgrounds including the army, police force, as well as three former tram drivers and a window blind fitter.