Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), the UK’s largest rail operator, and young people’s charity, The Prince’s Trust, have announced that their Get into Railways training programme has generated £1.6 million of social benefit to UK society over the last five years
The programme has so far helped 182 18-25 year old’s gain skills and work experience since the start of the partnership in 2014. 164 of these young people have completed the course and secured sustainable, permanent jobs in the GTR network which covers Great Northern, Thameslink, Southern and Gatwick Express. GTR operate services to locations in the East of England including Kings Lynn, Peterborough and Cambridge.
The news is revealed as part of GTR’s Social Impact Report marking the fifth anniversary of Get into Railways, which is funded by Govia Thameslink Railway and delivered in conjunction with The Prince’s Trust.
The report also announces that the programme, which takes an innovative and inclusive approach to training and employment, is set to be extended for two further years with a commitment to training at least 70 more young people.
Patrick Verwer, Chief Executive Officer, Govia Thameslink Railway, said: “We believe young people should have fair opportunities in life regardless of background or the barriers they may face. Get into Railways is helping us reach our shared goals: to enable young people to secure jobs and be active players in the economy.
“The scheme has helped hundreds of young people boost their confidence and inspired them to build a future, for themselves and for their families. It is hard not to feel an immense sense of pride in what we have achieved.”
Reinventing Recruitment On the Rails
The Get into Railways programme takes place over four weeks across classroom and field-based learning provided by GTR with pastoral and financial wrap-around care provided through The Prince’s Trust. The scheme has seen GTR completely re-think traditional recruitment approaches in order to increase the diversity of its workforce and access a bigger talent pool.
Michelle Clark, the Head of Employee Experience at Govia Thameslink Railways, added: “Working with The Prince’s Trust has been revolutionary in helping us create opportunities for young people who need them the most whilst maintaining our incredibly high standards of working.
“This meant asking tough questions of ourselves around recruiting and onboarding team members from different societal backgrounds with different needs. For example, we created a network of fully trained staff mentors, who have provided over 800 hours of dedicated mentoring over five years so we have complete peace of mind that we can get the most out of the talents these young people have.”
Alban Stowe, Senior Head of National Public Sector Partnerships at The Prince’s Trust, said: “Our recent Futures at Stake report has shown that 46% of young people don’t feel like they have any role models in the community, and sadly, 33% say they do not feel their communities care about them. This is why initiatives such as Get into Railways and the work of companies like GTR are so important: they don’t just provide direct skills and opportunities to young people, they have a robust economic benefit and show young people they can have a real stake in their communities.”
Guy Battle, Chief Executive Officer, Social Value Portal, said: “GTR and The Prince’s Trust have developed a programme together that is generating significant social value. Clearly the most important value comes through the stories of the young people whose lives have been transformed through being given a job, but it is also useful to understand the social value in financial terms. The programme has generated at least £1.6m in social value since the partnership began; a number which is calculated by drawing on the fiscal savings and economic benefits of a company going above and beyond to offer job opportunities to unemployed young people.”
South Cambridgeshire MP Heidi Allen said: “To really tackle the barriers to social mobility, it is vital that businesses play their part, so I am delighted to learn of the opportunities provided by Govia Thameslink’s Get into Railways scheme. Young people benefit, the business benefits, customers benefit and the country benefits. What a fabulous initiative!”
Careers On Track
Paula Hilliard, who lives in Peterborough, is the Engagement Manager at GTR and co-ordinator of the Get into Railways scheme with the Prince’s Trust. She said: “At GTR, we believe that everyone should have the chance to embark on a stable and rewarding career. Today, far too many young people are struggling to find work and, as a result, they’re giving up hope for the future. Working with The Prince’s Trust allows us to provide these young people with an opportunity to find fulfilling roles on the railway. We share many of the same values as The Prince’s Trust when it comes to training up the next generation. And as our partnership with them continues, we look forward to providing more young people with the chance join our GTR family.”
Oliver Gibbs, 25, of Girton, Cambridge, works at Great Northern’s Hitchin station as a Revenue Control Officer. Prior to joining the railway, Oliver had been studying for a degree in Transport and Logistics Management at the University of Huddersfield. He successfully completed his studies and started looking for work, applying for various jobs. It was at this point that his local Jobcentre referred him to The Prince’s Trust and from there Oliver heard about the Get into Railways scheme.
Oliver was keen to take part in the course, which involves two weeks in the classroom and a two-week placement. He said: “I have always been interested in railways since I was young.”
Following the course, Oliver became a Revenue Control Officer at Stevenage station. He is now based at Hitchin in the same role. He said: “I have worked for GTR for over two years and still enjoy the job. Every day is different. I like working on the railway, interacting with people and the general environment. There’s a very good team here and we get on very well. It’s like a big railway family.
“I’m very grateful for The Prince’s Trust. I’m not sure where I would be now had I not taken part in the Get into Railways scheme. My family are extremely proud of me. Working for GTR has also enabled me to buy my own car, rather than sharing my mum’s.”
Ben O’Day, 24, lives in Peterborough and is a Hitchin-based Rail Enforcement Officer. He is looking forward to becoming a Train Driver. Reflecting on his teenage years before joining the railway, he said;
“I was 18. I was a typical teenager in that I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with my life and a I lacked motivation.
“A lot of employers would read your CV and say you don’t have a lot of experience, but it’s difficult because you’re 18. You need to get experience somewhere. The Prince’s Trust aren’t like that. They see what skills you have and ask you where you would like to go, which is cool. They don’t shy away from a challenge.”