A day in the life of a Rail graduate

Adam Dickinson, Rail Graduate
10 February 2021
Image of a man wearing PPE and a harness hanging from a bridge.
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The rail sector is currently going through one the of largest transformations on record, with Network Rail committing to a five year plan, which invests over £45billion to support the expansion and modernisation of the rail network.

It’s often reported that the transport sector struggles to attract new talent to the industry and bring in different skills and greater diversity, as the sector adapts to the latest challenges. This window of opportunity provides the industry with the platform to inspire, invest and attract new talent to meet the existing, modernisation changes that are on the horizon and positively address the skills shortages by encouraging people to view the transport sector as a career destination.

But how do we reach out and inspire young people to look at us as a safe pair of hands to grow their career? No better way than hearing from a young person who has embarked on that journey. Adam Dickinson, a Graduate Engineer, who has been with Amey for five years, shares his experience of Amey’s graduate programme and gives an insight into his day job inspecting structures.

“I joined Amey via the graduate programme because it offered me the chance to develop a career instead of giving me just a ‘job’. There is so much opportunity in the programme to experience new roles, meet new people and develop my skills as an engineer. What the graduate programme has shown me is how many different jobs a structures engineer undertakes – some that I didn’t know existed until I enrolled on this programme.

“Outside of work I have many interests, from football to jujitsu and have a real passion for cars – I’ve always liked investigating, fixing and repairing things, so the engineer programme is a perfect fit for me as it allows me to do just that, working on large structures!

“Amey’s graduate programme has enabled me to learn whilst I worked. I’m part of a team of structural examiners who are the eyes on the ground for asset engineers, inspecting bridges and other structures to make sure they are fit for purpose. I work in Amey’s Civil Examination Framework Agreement (CEFA) team who work on behalf of Network Rail assessing over 70,000 structures across the UK.”

Access all areas

“My role is split between office work and site work – no two days are same. One day I can be creating a CAD drawing of a bridge and the following day I can be climbing over and under it! Due to COVID-19, office days are now spent working from home, writing up reports, producing CAD drawings, carrying out calculations on bridges and preparing for further site visits. I also use some of these office days to weave in time to study and broaden my skills, which my team are really supportive of.

“The site work, which I get a lot of enjoyment from, varies from job-to-job and can take me all over the country. I can be asked to undertake all sorts of activities once on site – accessing the structures to inspect them can be the first part of the challenge! Sometimes you have to use a rope to access the site, clamber through confined spaces or simply climbing a ladder!

“One of the most exciting parts of the job is accessing those areas that many people don’t see which can vary from inspecting small culverts to massive viaducts. As part of the graduate programme I’ve travelled across the UK, working on the Forth Road Bridge and climbing around St Pancras station. The diversity of my role really excites me – something I’m always quick to share with friends and family when they ask, ‘what have you been up to today?’

“I may have only just started out on my career as an engineer but there are still challenges and things that keep me awake at night. I like to keep updated on what’s happening in the sector and improve my knowledge and understanding of structures. There are lots of new innovations and use of technology in the sector which I’m keen to utilise in my role and share with the team.”

Inspiring in a pandemic 

At Amey, we are committed to inspiring new talent and engaging early to encourage a greater diversity of applicants to our team. We share Network Rail’s commitment to building a series of young person programmes and developing routes into employment. Building on our existing inclusion programmes to inspire tomorrow’s workforce, we’ve created a bespoke railway engineering degree apprenticeship scheme in partnership with Sheffield Hallam University. Most recently, we have launched a series of degree apprenticeships with universities across the UK.

As part of our targeted, ongoing engagement strategy we have committed to recruiting over 150 apprentices across Amey this year from a range of backgrounds. This will include supporting Network Rail's TISS commitments by recruiting one apprentice for every £3million spent per contractual year, using our apprenticeship programme. We currently have three apprentices working on the CEFA framework and nine on the level 4 Association of Project Management course, giving more people the opportunity to develop.

“The Amey graduate programme has given me the best start in my career. I’ve been able to complete my University degree, coming out with the first-class honours, whilst still helping to keep trains running and making sure people can safely get from a to b.

“If anyone reading this is keen to explore a career in transport, I can fully recommend exploring the different support programmes and routes that are out there that can be tailored to your different styles of learning. Not all jobs are what they first seem so keep an open mind and say ‘yes’!  I couldn’t have a more supportive employer than Amey, they invest a lot in their people and have engaging programmes at the ready for you to try as you make choices about how to grow your career.”

It’s not only at degree level that Amey looks to inspire its future engineers. Back in 2018, Amey introduced over 120,000 schoolgirls to STEM through its education programmes. With the onslaught of COVID-19 we adapted our approach to STEM outreach, ensuring that we continued our engagement with young people, through a variety of interactive initiatives. Our Chat and Learn programmes are providing schools and young people the chance to request a one-to-one or class career talk. CEFA Southern and Wales and Western Regions will be running their first virtual work experience programme for around 20 young people in the February half term, working in partnership with Speakers for Schools. This will give students an idea of the industry and potential career paths available to them.

Amey has also created an Amey Education Hub page to inspire young children into STEM and a career in transport, which includes Network Rail’s ‘Emily the Engineer’ activity book to provide fun activities to introduce young people to STEM.

To find out more information about starting your career at Amey follow the link here


To access the Education Hub and the interactive and downloadable material, follow the link here https://www.amey.co.uk/education/

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