A group of Year 10 and 12 girls from St Ambrose Barlow RC High & 6th Form in Swinton, Manchester, took to the track to get a taste of what a career in rail engineering can offer them, thanks to Salford-headquartered Morson Vital Training.
The #CareersOnTrack event aimed to address the skills shortage and lack of diversity in the rail industry by shining a spotlight on the exciting diversity of careers and pathways into engineering, whilst breaking down the stereotypes that prevent females from entering the sector.
The young girls aged 14 to 17 spent the afternoon at Morson Vital Training’s education hub in Salford, where they tried on full PPE before stepping foot on a replica outdoor rail test track to learn more about the industry, the equipment used and the different roles.
The girls also stepped on board the Vital Safety Unit; a fleet of vehicles that travel the breadth of the country delivering safety talks to engineers out on site, and heard the inspiring stories of employees throughout the Morson Group and their pathways into the industry, be that apprenticeships, traineeships, graduate opportunities and more.
Assistant head of 6th form at St Ambrose Barlow RC High & 6th form, Sally Cheshire, said: “The afternoon was truly successful for all the girls. It showed them the opportunities available within the rail sector and helped them release that there are career paths for them to follow in this sector.
“It was such an insightful afternoon for all involved and we hope to do it again to inspire more students. A true representation of a local employer engaging with the employees of the future.”
Paige, a year 12 student at St Ambrose, added: “It has opened my eyes into other project management opportunities, as it’s an area I’d never considered before but is certainly one I’ll be looking into more for my future career after 6th form.”
The UK has the lowest percentage of female engineers in Europe, at fewer than 10%. Brexit is also likely to create a further 10% reduction in available rail labour, which is already suffering increasing competition from the aligning delivery schedules of major infrastructure projects, such as HS2, Hinkley Point C, airport expansions and highway schemes.
Morson Vital Training, part of the Morson Group, delivers a range of professional training programmes, particularly apprenticeships, to combat this and build the future pipeline of industry talent.
The specialist rail training provider has eight education centres nationally, including Manchester, Glasgow, Canning Town and Doncaster. To date, Morson Vital Training is the first and only training provider to receive the NSAR (National Skills Academy for Rail) Platinum Award.
The Group’s technical recruitment arm, Morson International, has also pledged to double the number of female engineering contractors that it employs by 2020. With thousands of specialist female contractors working across the globe, the number of female engineers vs males sat at just 7.5% when the pledge was made in June 2017.
Andrew Robinson, training support manager at Morson Vital Training, added: “The young girls were a credit to their school and it was superb to change their opinions about what a job in rail engineering looks like by bringing these careers to life.
“We pride ourselves on breaking down the outdated views within our industry, to build a highly skilled and diverse future pipeline that doesn’t just cover gender but all areas of diversity. Gender, race, age, sexuality or background should never play a part in limiting a person’s ambition as there are so many career pathways within our industry.
“With major projects like HS2 soon ramping up in its delivery, it’s never been a more exciting time to work in rail. These girls will be the future engineers delivering the digital railway and we hope the day inspired them, their friends and their family to enter engineering, especially when more than half of all females currently enter the sector through a family connection.”
The event was also held in partnership with The Girls’ Network, of which the Morson Group is a partner of the charity’s Salford mentoring programme. The Girls’ Network raises the aspirations of young girls from disadvantaged backgrounds by partnering them with positive female mentors over a 12-month period to become more ambitious and reach their aspirations.
Charlie Ledley, network manager at The Girls’ Network, concluded: “This event has provided the girls from St Ambrose an insight into the wealth of possibilities that a career in rail engineering could bring them.
“Events like this are vital for breaking down stereotypes that often can discourage young talented girls from embarking on certain career paths and this session really challenged those conversations. We are extremely thankful to Morson Vital Training for organising and delivering such an informative, engaging and inspiring afternoon.”