Previous apprentices - case studies
Stuart Clarke, worked his way to the top after joining Nexus in 1997 as an apprentice electrician.
He is now our Metro Infrastructure Director - a role which sees him head up all the maintenance and modernisation work on the 77km Metro network.
During his time at Nexus, Stuart has gained a degree in engineering and a master’s degree in project management.
Stuart said “When I think back my time as an apprentice and all the hard work that I’ve put in over the years it is all now so worthwhile. This will hopefully show other apprentices at the start of their careers what it’s possible to achieve if they work hard enough. Nexus as an employer has played such a huge part in where I’ve got to today. The organisation’s commitment to training and development is second to none. I’m looking forward to seeing more of our apprentices making their mark in the years to come.”
What does Rail Engineering mean to you?
Rail engineering has been at the heart of my career since I left school and is now something that I take ultimate responsibility for in terms of providing public transport by Metro to the people of Tyne and Wear and the many people that visit us from outside the region. Working for Nexus and being part of the Tyne and Wear Metro team is in my blood and always will be. Rail engineering comprises many different disciplines of engineering: from Electrical and Mechanical to Track (Permanent Way) and Overhead Line; from Power Supplies to Civil Engineering and Building Services; from Signalling, Telecommunications and IT systems to Rolling Stock. The opportunities for career development are vast and diverse.
Why is this industry essential?
Rail engineering is something that demands a huge amount of pride, passion and commitment for the job, as well as the obvious need for technical expertise. Providing a first-class rail service such as the Tyne and Wear Metro to so many people often requires engineering staff to go the extra mile to ensure the rail service that we deliver is as safe, reliable and enjoyable as it can be. Put simply, without rail engineering there would be no railway.
Why do you enjoy your role?
There are never two days the same and the challenges that present themselves keep me and my staff at the top of our game. Rail engineering is certainly a career option for anyone who enjoys problem solving. When we are in the face of adversity, as can sometimes happen, it’s great seeing the whole team pull together, not just interdisciplinary engineering functions, but all roles across the business from customer services staff to train drivers and controllers and beyond: The rewards are immense.
24-year-old Morgan joined Nexus in 2015, on a three-year apprenticeship in Electrical Maintenance.
She had been studying A-Levels and had planned on becoming a teacher, until she saw an advert for Nexus apprenticeships.
Morgan was keen to try something new, and the chance to earn money while she was learning was very appealing, so she applied and was successful.
“I loved my apprenticeship and would recommend them to anyone. You can only learn so much in a classroom, and training on the job gives you invaluable work experience and teaches you so many new skills.
As well as gaining qualifications, being in a real work environment also taught me to be more independent and more responsible.”
90% of people who finish an apprenticeship with Nexus go on to a higher-level apprenticeship or employment with us, and that is true for Morgan.
She’s now a technician for signalling, telecommunications, electrical and mechanical engineering in our Capital Delivery team, working on a wide variety of new projects across the system.
“I would say to anyone who wants to work as part of a team, earning money and learning practical skills, go for an apprenticeship. It doesn’t matter who you are, or what career you thought you might do, if you see something that looks interesting, challenging and fulfilling, go for it!”
Connor started an apprenticeship with Nexus 10 years ago this year, and his career has gone from strength to strength ever since.
After finishing his A Levels Connor wanted to start working and earn some money, so he applied for apprenticeships, thinking he could apply to university at a later date.
He studied an Electrical and Mechanical Engineering apprenticeship with Nexus for 3 years and even won our Apprentice of the Year award in his final year.
Connor was successful in getting a permanent job with Nexus when he finished his studies and worked in electrical maintenance teams looking after lifts, escalators and substations.
His dreams of going to university also came true, as Nexus supported Connor in studying a degree in Electrical and Electronic Engineering.
“Nexus couldn’t have been more supportive, right from the start. They really invest in their employees and I always feel like my contribution is valued and recognised” Connor said.
Following his graduation, Connor was promoted to Engineering Technical Manager when a vacancy became available and has gone on to train for more specialist qualifications. Not bad for a 28-year-old!
“All you need to be successful in an apprenticeship is a willingness to learn and be part of a team, you’ll be taught everything else, learning much more on-the-job than you would in a classroom.” Connor said “And as well as the technical skills, the life skills are invaluable. I learned to be more responsible, more independent, and earned some money which is important when you’re 18!”
Even while studying for his A Levels, railways were part of Euan’s life.
For a short time, he worked part-time for Nexus as a customer service advisor in Metro stations and had a voluntary role at a local heritage railway.
So, when an apprenticeship in Transport Planning came up, Euan took the opportunity to learn more about the industry from the strategy and logistics side.
Like many apprentices, Euan had considered university but really wanted to get started in a job, and an apprenticeship provided the best of both worlds.
He said: “I’ve learned skills that couldn’t be taught in a classroom, about my area of work and also a huge amount of transferable skills like communications, problem solving and time management.”
In October 2020 Euan applied for a permanent post as a Bus Contracts Officer and was successful, despite still also working towards completing his apprenticeship at the time. In 2022 Euan made the move from bus to Metro, taking up the role of Customer Information Controller in the Metro Control Room.
“Nexus have been very supportive. Being able to work in services across the whole business really helps understand how everything works, and I’m looking forward to welcoming new apprentices into the business, they won’t regret it."
Ben and Craig started their apprenticeships in electrical and electronic engineering together in 2014, and when they completed them in 2017 both got permanent jobs with Nexus.
They worked side by side as workshop technicians in the Automatic Fare Collection section, making sure all of the gates, ticket machines and validators across the Metro system are working properly. They provide 2nd line support, solving problems and fixing technical issues in the workshops if they can't be fixed in the station.
Ben said:" I enjoyed my apprenticeship and was really happy to get a permanent job. Nexus are now supporting me to do my degree in Electrical Engineering too, which I'm really grateful for, and hopefully will help me progress further here."
In 2022 Craig left the Automatic Fares Collection workshop to take up a role as Infrastructure Controller in the Metro Control Room.
After completing an apprenticeship and a degree in electrical and electronic engineering with Nexus, Law secured a post as Metro Signalling Supervisor, overseeing the maintenance of Metro’s signalling systems across its 77km network. He then progressed further, and is now an Engineer in the Signalling Engineering team.