Nexus, which owns, manages and is modernising Metro, has been putting its new rail engineering apprentices through their paces on a ‘boot camp’ style training course with the Royal Navy.
The four apprentices have been learning their trades on a residential course at HMS Sultan in Gosport, on the south coast of England, ahead of joining up with Nexus in June.
The revamped Nexus apprentice scheme saw hundreds of hopefuls vying for just four available places. This is the first year Nexus has sent apprentices on a residential course of this kind.
HMS Sultan is Europe’s largest specialised rail engineering training centre. The training centre has a unique relationship with the Royal Navy, which means that in addition to a dedicated on-site training centre, there is also access to extensive sport and fitness facilities.
The apprentices are being provided with a technical foundation that will give them an excellent platform for the future. They are learning fundamental engineering principles and skills through a blend of academic and practical exercises.
In the second and third year the apprentices will be working as part of an engineering maintenance team, based at the Nexus rail maintenance HQ in South Gosforth, looking after sections of the Metro system, including tracks, overhead lines and signals.
The apprentices work towards an NVQ Level Three in Railway Engineering, and this will involve a combination of rail-specific technical courses, work experience and formal assessments.
Nexus Management Development Manager, Bill Collingwood, said: “The apprentices are enjoying the training at HMS Sultan and this will stand them in good stead for when they come back to work at Nexus in the summer.
“They are getting used to living away from home and are benefiting from the training facilities on offer. They are learning valuable skills and disciplines to make them to ready to work for Nexus.”
The apprentices spoke highly of their new temporary home at HMS Sultan near Portsmouth.
Connor Blackburn, 19, of Leam Lane in Gateshead, said: “The facilities are excellent and in the evenings there is a wide range of sporting activities we can do, including a gym. Since I’ve been down there I’ve lost two and a half stone.”
Sam Patten, 20, of Westerhope in Newcastle, said: “I am enjoying the hands on side of the course. It gives you the chance to put all the theory into practice.”
Josh Robinson, 20, of Ashington in Northumberland, said: “It’s been good. I’m enjoying it down there and have met some good people. I’m learning new skills every day and the facilities are really good.”
Jonathan Chisholm, 18, of North Shields, said: “I’m enjoying it. We are learning all the theory and the practical side of the job as well.”