To coincide with National Apprenticeship Week (6-10 March) and International Women’s Day (8 March) Network Rail will be working directly with schools as part of a new engagement programme to encourage more young people, women in particular, to consider STEM subjects and inspire them about the different types of careers available across the rail industry.
The organisation has also set itself a new target to increase its take-up of female employees across the business to 20 percent by 2020.
As one of Britain’s biggest employers, Network Rail recognises it has a role to play in inspiring future generations about careers in the engineering sector. The pipeline of female talent entering the sector is low which WISE (Women in Science and Engineering) say is because 50,000 girls are turning away from an education in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) every year.
Loraine Martins, Network Rail’s director of diversity and inclusion, said: ‘There is still a wide perception that engineering jobs are for ‘boys only’. Many of the outdated stereotypes about what makes certain career choices male or female continue to be engrained within some children from a really young age, often passed down through parents, families and teachers.
‘Our own research has shown that girls as young as seven believe that engineering is not an option for them, which is why we need to do everything we can to educate children, parents and teachers about the vast array of jobs within the sector. Attracting and retaining a diverse mix of talent is essential not only for our business, but also for the UK economy as a whole.’
As well as going into schools, Network Rail is also looking to recruit apprentices to help deliver its Railway Upgrade Plan. The company is calling out for the next generation of engineers who want to learn on the job and build a career in engineering. Network Rail’s apprentices are guaranteed a job on successful completion of the three year course. The retention rate of those coming through the apprenticeship scheme is around 75 per cent – much higher than the national average for engineering (55 per cent).
Network Rail staff will be going into schools across the country to deliver educational sessions on careers in the STEM sector from March 3 2017. The organisation is also looking to recruit 150 apprentices across the country.