Submission from Network Rail
1. As one of the biggest investors in vocational
training and development in the country, Network Rail welcomes
many of the measures in Government's draft bill to allow apprenticeships
and vocational training to grow.
2. With a significant investment programme
to improve the railway proposed over the next five year rail regulatory
period, starting in 2009, and in delivering the Government's 30
year rail strategy, Network Rail, and the industry generally,
needs more adequately qualified apprenticeship candidates and
3. However, Network Rail would like to see
further measures in the bill to deliver more apprenticeships:
increase places and funding for apprenticeships
for those aged 19 and over and in geographical areas with shortages,
such as London and the South East; and
reduce external inspection, assessment
and assurance for employer delivered apprenticeship schemes and
increase self assurance and governance of standards for such schemes.
Apprenticeship Frameworks (Clauses 7-10)are
the arrangements detailed in this section right?
4. Network Rail welcomes the opportunity
for employers to submit draft Apprenticeship Frameworks. We already
run one of the largest apprenticeship schemes in the country,
which will produce over 2,000 skilled technicians in the next
Specification of apprenticeship standards (Clauses
11-15)are the arrangements detailed in this section right?
5. Network Rail is calling for this bill
to include measures to address the problem of over inspection
and excessive outside assurance and governance of apprenticeship
schemes delivered by employers.
6. Therefore, in preparing a draft specification
of apprenticeship standards, Network Rail would like the Learning
and Skills Council to also draft and submit a specification for
the self assessment and assurance of standards for employer delivered
apprenticeship schemes (Clause 11). This should be done in consultation
with the employers who will deliver apprenticeship schemes.
7. Currently, we find the LSC and Ofsted
increasingly bureaucratic and their auditing of our standards
excessive. Network Rail is an employer, not a training provider,
and we do not generate income from our training. However, nonetheless,
we face the same level of external inspection and assessment as
a college or commercial training provider. For example, we are
subject to a full Ofsted inspection which diverts a lot of time
and energy which we should be concentrating on the delivery of
our apprenticeship scheme.
8. Network Rail fully accepts the need for
some outside assessment of its apprenticeship scheme to ensure
that its high standards are monitored and maintained but we also
believe that it should be rigorous without being excessively detailed.
Rather, employers themselves should take the lead role in determining
and maintaining the standards of their apprenticeship schemes
so that they are driven by the needs of their business.
9. Indeed, the processes that Network Rail
are currently externally audited against are already very similar
to our internal best practice which we undertake as a matter of
10. Rather than providing the LSC with monthly
feedback, we would like to move towards a system of self-assurance
and self-governance of our standards. We believe that the requirement
on the LSC to specify apprenticeship standards for the Secretary
of State provides an ideal opportunity to move towards such a
Duties of Learning and Skills Council and Secretary
of State (Clauses 21-22)are the obligations we are placing
on the LSC right?
11. Network Rail is calling for this bill
to require the LSC to increase the funding and availability of
apprenticeship places for those aged 19 and over.
12. It currently costs Network Rail £56,000
to train an apprentice over three years (this covers salary, training
costs and accommodation) in addition to any LSC funding.
13. The LSC provides £14,500 of funding
for all apprentices aged 16-18, but only half as much towards
the cost of training for those aged 19 and over.
14. As students are staying on longer at
school and college we are finding that those applying for apprenticeships
are getting older and we believe that LSC funding needs to adapt
to this change.
15. Network Rail is also very keen to recruit
additional older apprentices because we find they are often well
suited to our scheme. We believe the Government and the LSC should
welcome and support this recruitment of older candidates and this
bill should provide for more places and full funding for those
apprentices aged 19 and over.
16. Therefore, in amending the 2000 Learning
and Skills Act, Network Rail believes this bill (in Clause 21)
should require the LSC to secure sufficient availability and funding
for apprenticeship places and that this duty should extend to
persons over the age of 19 years old rather than those who are
under 19, as specified in the 2000 Act.
17. Network Rail would also like the LSC
to target more apprenticeship funding and places in particular
geographical areas where there are shortages of apprentices and
skills, particularly London and the South East. The government
should also try to provide other incentives to apprentices who
train in London and the South East where there are skills shortages
and the cost of living is high.