Accrington and Rossendale College, who received an Outstanding rating from their latest Ofsted inspection, are offering a unique and exciting new rail maintenance and repair course after transforming disused land into a functional and real-to-life rail track.
The Railway Maintenance Programme (the first of its kind in Lancashire) is an 8-week course, which runs Monday to Friday and is aimed at fast-tracking unemployed adults aged 19+ into well-paid, skilled careers for life within the rail industry.
Based at Accrington & Rossendale College, the brand new railway track is a unique learning tool – a first of its kind for the area. Classroom learning will also be vital to the course, and is set to take place at Lancashire Adult Learning, Brierfield.
Those enrolling on the course will learn the fundamentals of rail track maintenance needed to obtain a successful career on the rail, be introduced to the typical operations of rail, as well as developing an extensive skill set to carry out various roles within the rail industry.
The practical element of the programme will see learners visit a specially designed railway maintenance track, based at Accrington & Rossendale College, where they will partake in a number of activities including changing sleepers and repairing the railway track.
Also included in the course is a full set of Network Rail approved PPE, a Network Rail approved medical, basic hand tools training, first aid and manual handling, plus much more.
Tom Gee, head of curriculum for employability, volunteering and skills, said: “This is the fastest opportunity for learners who are 18-19+ to move from unemployment into a skilled profession.
“There’s a six-week NVQ which takes in all the theory and the practical, before learners move onto the Personal Track Safety (PTS) and Track Induction Course (TIC) in order to get their sentinel card which allows them to work as a blue hat in the railway industry.
“We have been running the programme for a year now and the track site which we have been using is in Liverpool. From a sustainability and efficiency point of view and also with Accrington being the home of Accrington NORI, it is good to have the facility here in Accrington for people in the local vicinity to use and to upskill.
“In the last year we have had successful learners moving into employment with a range of companies from McGinleys, to Vital Rail and DF Brickwork and we are hoping to continue that, with the majority of the jobs being on the West Line Coast from Crewe through to Carlisle and on the TransPennine from Leeds to Manchester.”
Mr Gee, added: “It’s a real opportunity for people who have had a negative experience in education and employment. It provides a great chance for them to get into well paid employment. Not everyone wants to work inside, lots of people want to work outdoors and this is the environment for them.
“The average starting salary positions for the labour roles is £12-£15 per hour. There are a number of routes and opportunities open in the industry as they become more proficient and the more qualifications you get while in the industry, that can increase to £20-£30 per hour within a couple of years.