Ruislip engineering firm is exceeding its own target of 5 apprentices per 100 staff
With more than 50 apprentices doing NVQs on Track Partnership, and other apprentices on projects including Crossrail, VGC has comfortably exceeded its ambitious 2015 target of five apprentices per 100 workers.
It means that over five per cent of VGC workers are apprentices, with the programme starting with 13 weeks of classroom and ontrack training, conducted by either Fastline in Rainham or Arc Academy in Watford.
Concluding this, apprentices are interviewed by managers with some going on to work on Netweork Rail and Crossrail projects, and others interested in a career in London Underground invited to join the Track Partnership apprenticeship programme.
Experienced Apprentices receive the usual rates of pay for the job, as well as support for their training.
They are placed in gangs with experienced foremen, carefully selected to support and develop them.
Trainers meet them once a week as they prepare for NVQ Level 2 in Rail Engineering Underpinning Knowledge, which is usually gained around nine months after starting the apprenticeship.
Once apprentices have passed the NVQ they can then progress their longterm careers within VGC, with the possibility of becoming foremen, and then supervisors.
Terry Dutton-Wells, who became VGC’s HSQE director in 2002, started his career as an apprentice welder. “Rail is a great career,” he says. “It offers so many openings in numerous disciplines. You get the opportunity to look at where you want to be in any aspect of the broad spectrum of industry activities.”
Rudy Osborne started his apprenticeship in summer 2015 and praises his foremen for his introduction into a rail career.
“Andy O’Shea and Michael McCarney always know what to do. If something goes wrong, they know how to fix it.” Rudy, who describes himself as a ‘hands-on’ person, says he really enjoys getting involved in the job.
“The teams are really good; always helping me out. They know I’m new and they’ve got a huge lot of experience – they teach me new things every shift. I’ve moved around to different gangs and I’ve learned technical skills, how to use different machines and tools, and tips to make things easier. The teams make sure I learn the quick, easy, safe way to do things like keying and unkeying rail.”
Rudy views his apprenticeship as a way to get a start in the engineering industry, and he’s seen the way other people have progressed.
“I really enjoy looking over at something once the job has finished, and thinking ‘I was part of making that’.”
Find out more about VGC at www.vgcgroup.co.uk