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Hitachi Rail launches new national apprenticeship programme

Hitachi Rail doubling number of trainees in UK to over 100

Hitachi Rail, one of the largest builder and maintainer of trains in the UK, has launched a new national apprentice and graduate programme.

The company already employs 54 apprentices to build trains at its manufacturing site at Newton Aycliffe, County Durham. The new intake will see 56 trainees, graduates and apprentices, join over the next two years at sites across the UK, including newly built depots.

By 2020, Hitachi Rail will have 281 trains running on some of the UK’s busiest intercity and commuter routes.  The first new trains are due on the Great Western main line from this autumn as part of the government-led £5.7bn Intercity Express Programme, followed by new trains for the East Coast main line from 2018.

New trainees to work on pioneering new trains

The 100 trainees to work on Hitachi’s new trains include both apprentices and graduate engineers.

Hitachi has begun to recruit 46 new apprentices to work at its manufacturing and maintenance sites.  The first wave of 16 new starters begins their apprenticeships today (30 Aug).

The new national apprenticeship programme follows the successful recruitment of 54 train manufacturing apprentices currently at Newton Aycliffe.  A new wave of apprentices at the manufacturing facility in the North East will join a 1,000 strong workforce building intercity and commuter trains.

Apprentices will also be employed at train maintenance depots across the UK, including Ashford, Stoke Gifford (Bristol), Doncaster and West London. Hitachi has recently invested over £250million in building a new network of depots as part of delivering the Government’s Intercity Express Programme. Apprentices will learn how to inspect and ready trains for passenger service using the latest industry technology.

The level 3 apprenticeships will last up to three years and be administrated by the National Training Academy for Rail (NTAR).  Hitachi’s apprenticeship programme is part of a new qualification standard developed by the “Trailblazer group”, in which companies are allowed to set the skills and training, as well as the assessment criteria of the qualification. 

A new intake of 10 graduates will also join Hitachi Rail’s trainee programme. Graduate engineers will rotate around sites in the UK. They will also work with colleagues in Japan on train designs as well as bringing engineering expertise to depots.

Trainees will be part of a global organisation and have the opportunity to work on new projects such as innovative digital technology.

Building a new generation of railway engineers and technicians

The trainee programmes are part of Hitachi’s wider plans to create a new generation of railway engineers and technicians. Hitachi aims to have at least 5% of its workforce in an entry level training scheme, such as an apprenticeship or graduate programme.

The company has already co-founded a new university technical college in the North East, UTC South Durham, which opened last year. Hitachi’s Newton Aycliffe site, based at the same business park as the college, works closely with the students on engineering projects.

Hitachi Rail in the UK will soon employ over 2,000 people across 15 locations. To ensure the delivery of current and future rail projects, Hitachi is building a long-term workforce with a rich array of engineering and manufacturing skills.

Karen Boswell OBE, Managing Director of Hitachi Rail Europe, said:

“We are creating a lasting legacy in the UK with new trains, new facilities and most importantly, a new generation to drive the rail industry forward.

“If our country’s rail industry is to succeed we must promote technical skills to young people.  By closing the UK’s engineering skills gap we can improve passenger experiences with new and better rail services. 

“I believe that we are on the cusp of a new era for UK rail with record levels of investment and exciting projects. That is why we must start planning for the future and build a truly world leading workforce.”

John Hayes(1)Transport Skills Minister John Hayes CBE MP said:

“Having championed vocational skills and apprenticeships as both a Minister and MP, I am delighted Hitachi Rail has launched a new national apprentice and graduate programme. Investing in skills will help Hitachi and those they train to prosper. For all of us, creating a high skilled workforce is vital to building productive capacity and so help build Britain’s future.

“The work my department is now doing to map the needs of the transport sector shows our country needs 35,000 apprenticeship starters in roads and rail projects to 2022 and we are on track to meet that need.”

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