The first wave of apprentices to graduate through the Prospects College of Advanced Technology (PROCAT) railway academy are ready to take the next step in their careers with Bombardier Transportation.
The eight students, all local from Essex, have been studying engineering with rail traction and rolling stock specialist modules at the college (a large and rapidly expanding provider of technical vocational education) for over three years. The apprenticeship included elements of mechanical, electrical, electronic and pneumatic engineering, providing the apprentices with the skills needed to work in the railway sector.
The students have been able to make the most of PROCAT’s railway academy, opened in September 2014. This facility houses a station environment complete with platform, track, passenger information system, CCTV and both lineside and trackside equipment.
Bombardier’s PROCAT graduates are now able to competently maintain and repair locomotives, carriages and cargo wagons, while operating safely and efficiently from their heavy maintenance depot in Ilford and fleet maintenance depots in East Ham and Seven Kings, Essex. The apprentices are well versed working as part of a team to inspect stock, find faults and undertake maintenance and renewal work.
The relationship between PROCAT and Bombardier is one that understands the need for quality engineers for the future of the rail industry. The apprenticeship scheme allows students to ‘earn while they learn’ in state-of-the-art environments while working with the equipment Bombardier uses, meaning the apprentices are work ready the moment they qualify. Something university graduates simply cannot be.
Robert Green, Lead Training & Competency Assessor at Bombardier’s UK Services business said:
“Bombardier has worked closely with PROCAT to ensure the Apprenticeship Programme offered value-added learning, meeting both the needs of our operations and the qualification structure. It has been a journey for both the College and Bombardier to fill a gap where other engineering apprenticeships fell short of our expectations. We now have multi-skilled and talented staff to take our business forward into the future.
All eight of our 2012 Apprentice Intake - Matthew Smith, James Drane, Sam Gumbrell, Michael Daniels, Daniel Burton, Danny Smith, Sam Howe and Paul Curley, - are now employed in full-time positions, ranging from Service Technicians, Vehicle Testers and Methods Technician.
Completion of their Apprenticeship marks the beginning of their careers in Bombardier, with some of them now progressing on to HNC in Engineering and beyond.”
It is an exciting time to be part of the industry with the biggest investment in rail infrastructure since the Victorian era planned across the country. The government plans to spend £37.5bn to meet the predicted 400 million extra passenger journeys by 2020. It is estimated the rail industry needs between 1,600 and 2,000 new people in the next five years and Bombardier – working with its partners including PROCAT - intends to support this target. 18 new apprentices have started the course at PROCAT this year, with plans for a further 20 next year.
At Bombardier’s rolling stock manufacturing site in Derby, 15 new apprentices joined the company in September, with plans to take on a further 30 over the coming months, in support of future workload.