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Creating opportunities for disadvantaged young people

It’s tough for any young women and men to get their first step on the employment ladder. Being able to show successful work experience can make all of the difference. Yet for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds, these work experience opportunities can be almost impossible to find, increasing their chances of becoming unemployed in the longer term.

That’s why Govia Thameslink Railway and South Western Railway have been working with The Prince’s Trust. Govia Thameslink Railway’s Get into Railways programme provides a four‐week work experience course for 18‐25‐year‐olds who are struggling to get into employment. They run busy commuter services on Southern and Thameslink, from the South Coast, across London and on to Bedford and Cambridge, so can give participants a breadth of experience across their network.

The first two weeks are spent learning more about the railway, including vital safety and security protocols, and invaluable first aid skills. Participants also learn about the presentation and customer services skills that are crucial to working with passengers. The second two weeks of the programme are on the rail network itself, working with staff to gain practical work experience on ticket barriers and elsewhere in customer service.

Organised in three intakes each year, the programme has provided work experience to over 100 young people. As well as practical knowledge, the course is aimed at building skills, confidence and motivation that can benefit any career. Many of the participants have gone on to be offered permanent roles at GTR, with 29 work experience graduates offered jobs since 2017 alone.

Baski Gwen, 19, from Kenley, Croydon, who has been offered a position with Southern Rail, said: “The programme has given me a lot more confidence and improved my skills ‐ some of which I didn’t even know I had before! There wasn’t a single day on my placement that I didn’t want to go in and do the job at hand. Every day I’ve been so motivated to do my best and it’s been a great experience that I’ve loved from start to finish.”

Nationwide, train companies are creating 20,000 new apprenticeships in the railway and its supply chain by 2020, 10,000 of whom will be new recruits from more diverse backgrounds. Govia Thameslink Railway, by working with The Prince’s Trust, is leading the way in showing young people from disadvantaged backgrounds that they can have a rewarding career in the railways.

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