On 6 December, Government and industry published the Rail Sector Deal to strengthen collaboration and improve the productivity of the sector. The Government will take steps to provide even greater certainty to the rail industry about the profile of future spending, to give enhanced confidence to the industry to invest in Research & Development, people and skills. The industry is committed to: refreshing the Rail Sector Skills Delivery Plan; running a pilot in the Midlands to encourage SMEs both to increase the uptake of apprenticeships in the rail industry and to test how shared apprenticeships can work; a schools engagement programme to better target the promotion and attraction that rail companies undertake; and conduct a feasibility study for a Digital Railway Academy. East Midlands Trains, part of the Stagecoach Group, has also become the first train operator to trial the UK’s first level 3 Train Driver Apprenticeship Programme as part of the National Driver Academy. This is a project which will recruit a new generation of drivers with the skills and management to provide passengers with better, more reliable journeys.
In 2016 DfT set ambitions through the Transport Infrastructure Skills Strategy to increase apprenticeships in road and rail bodies to help address skills shortages in the transport sector and ensure that the transport sector has the capacity and capability to deliver planned investment.
DfT works in collaboration with employers across the sector through an industry body, The Strategic Transport Apprenticeship Taskforce (STAT) to deliver these ambitions. Network Rail, HS2, the Rail Delivery Group, the National Skills Academy for Rail and TfL are members of STAT. So far, over 5000 apprenticeships have been created in road and rail bodies. Since 2017, The Department for Transport has used its procurement to drive apprenticeship numbers through contracts, including those within the rail industry.