Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) has seen a 50% jump in the number of females who have started apprenticeship courses, compared to the previous year.
The company – which operates a range of services including cross-London Thameslink services, Great Northern links between London and King's Lynn, Southern trains from London to the Sussex coast as well in parts of Surrey, Kent and Hampshire and Gatwick Express – saw 176 new starters in 2023, of which 60 were women.
The highest number of women applicants for train driver roles in five years was achieved in 2022 which GTR says is a positive reflection of the rail industry, underlining the fact it is becoming more inclusive and showing the company's commitment to the diversification of its workforce.
Overall, the number of employees taking on an apprenticeship increased by 22% last year. The company offers 14 apprenticeship courses and employees are encouraged to study alongside day jobs to aid their development.
There is neither an age limit nor entry requirements for applicants to GTR apprenticeships.
In 2023, the oldest apprentice joining the programme was 58, while the youngest apprentice is 18. New and existing employees are encouraged to apply, with applications coming from people from a wide range of backgrounds, not necessarily in the rail industry.
Wioletta Kuszyk qualified as a train driver last year after undertaking one of GTR's apprenticeship routes. She chose to change career at the age of 39 having been left unemployed as an impact of the Covid pandemic. According to Wioletta, the training programme was a practical introduction to the rail industry.
Wioletta said: “After making a big decision to change career paths from a chef to train driver post Covid, the GTR apprenticeship was a great introduction to the industry. It gave me all the skills and support I needed in those early years of my new career, and a thorough understanding of what my short and long-term opportunities were. There are so many apprenticeships on offer at GTR to suit different people's needs, so if you're interested in the rail industry, it's a great way to get started.”
David Jackson, Apprenticeship Specialist at Govia Thameslink Railway, added: “It's great to see more women taking on apprenticeships and benefitting from further education at no cost. Our people are our biggest asset and we're proud to be able to offer training and qualifications to support their development at GTR.”