Welcoming 140 new apprentices

April 22, 2020

Collaborative effort to keep calm and carry on with apprenticeship delivery

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Caption: Westwood Training Centre

A new cohort of 140 apprentices have successfully begun their training for the Level 3 Rail Engineering Technician Scheme thanks to the powers of modern technology. Network Rail Training onboards 800-900 apprentices a year and this will be the first cohort to have completed their onboarding and initial training entirely online.

‚ÄčRegistering remotely:

Despite the challenging circumstances, Network Rail Training and Route Services IT were able to issue 140 laptops and ensure the new apprentices were able to activate their Network Rail accounts from home on their own personal devices until their Network Rail devices arrived. 

Practical solutions:

To ensure the programme of training could begin as planned, any practical work that would have been scheduled to take place at Westwood training centre was rescheduled to later in the year.

Virtual classrooms were already being explored but, after accelerating this work and introducing the technology this month, the new apprentices can now undertake theory modules. Apprentices can then put their learnings into practice using the purpose-built equipment at Westwood as soon as normal operation resumes.

Optimising technology:

A new learning management system (LMS) has been developed using the same system that supports Network Rail’s eLearning site, which hosts 165 online courses. The LMS enables apprentices to upload and manage their work for Training teams to review and offer ongoing support. 

Warm welcomes a-plenty:

A number of actions have been taken to ensure apprentices feel supported and remain engaged with the programme, including:

  • the development of new induction guides and tips on working from home
  • quizzes allowing apprentices to interact virtually with classmates
  • assignments to familiarise apprentices with learning materials
  • personal discussions with future line managers


New apprentice, Dinesh Patel, said: “The whole team at Network Rail have been brilliant during these unprecedented times. The Network Rail family have worked collaboratively and stepped up to the plate. My future is bright, my future is with Network Rail.”

A spokesperson for the apprenticeship delivery team said: “It’s exciting to welcome a new cohort of engineering apprentices into the fold. It’s so important that we continue to adapt to the situation with COVID-19 which is why we’re taking every step to ensure our apprentices experience a smooth transition into the organisation and receive all the support they need."