As part of National Apprenticeship Week, Steve Rotheram, Metro Mayor for the Liverpool City Region, visited Stadler Rail Service UK in Birkenhead to meet some of the apprentices who are helping to keep Merseyrail’s fleet of trains on the track.
As well as maintaining the current fleet, Stadler will also build the new state-of-the-art trains that will be introduced on to the Merseyrail network by 2020. The trains will be locally and publicly owned, with the £460 million project managed by Merseytravel on behalf of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority.
During the visit, Steve toured the depot and met five engineering apprentices, all of whom are on a four-year apprenticeship scheme, affiliated to the Engineering College in Monksferry, Wirral. At the end of the course, they will have an NVQ (national vocational qualification), a BTEC (business and technology education council certificate) and an HNC (higher national certificate) in electrical and electronic engineering. This means that they will be qualified train maintenance technicians.
Speaking after the visit, Steve Rotheram said:
“It was inspiring to meet these intelligent and motivated local young people who are doing such valuable work to keep our current fleet moving, and will work on the new fleet, when it is introduced.
“Ensuring that our young people are equipped with the skills that they need to succeed in the modern workplace is vital both for them and for the future prosperity of the city region as a whole.
“We need more of these gold-standard, high-level apprenticeships, which is why we have just launched our Apprenticeship Growth Plan setting out our plans to offer 20,000 apprenticeships a year by 2020.
“Apprenticeships are a vital element of ensuring our economy has the skills it needs to compete and I’m committed to doing all I can to persuade central government to give us the flexibility we need to make that happen.”
Thomas Zweifel, programme director and deputy UK director, Stadler Service UK, commented:
“Taking on enthusiastic individuals at the early stage of their career who have a natural aptitude in engineering means that Stadler can help them reach their potential, flourish professionally and ultimately contribute to the regional economy.
“We would expect the apprentices to be integral to the new Merseyrail fleet. They will be fully qualified in electronic and electrical engineering by the time the new trains are introduced and play important roles in maintaining them."