London. September 23. Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), the UK’s largest rail operator, and young people’s charity, The Prince’s Trust, have today announced that their Get into Railways training programme has generated £1.6 million of social benefit [see editor's note] to UK society over the last five years.
The programme has so far helped 182 18-25 year old’s gain skills and work experience since the start of the partnership in 2014. 164 of these young people have completed the course and secured sustainable, permanent jobs in the GTR network which covers Thameslink, Great Northern, Southern and Gatwick Express.
In fact, 14% of staff at the new-look London Bridge station, such as Prayer Okpaka who is a Train Dispatcher, have progressed from the Get into Railways programme. Other successful graduates from the scheme include Ben O'Day who is a Rail Enforcement Officer at Hitchin and Najla Almutairi, a Station Assistant at Victoria station.
The news is revealed as part of GTR’s Social Impact Report marking the fifth anniversary of Get into Railways, which is funded by Govia Thameslink Railway and delivered in conjunction with The Prince’s Trust.
The report also announces that the programme, which takes an innovative and inclusive approach to training and employment, is set to be extended for two further years with a commitment to training at least 70 more young people.
Patrick Verwer, Chief Executive Officer, Govia Thameslink Railway, said: “We believe young people should have fair opportunities in life regardless of background or the barriers they may face. Get into Railways is helping us reach our shared goals: to enable young people to secure jobs and be active players in the economy.
“The scheme has helped hundreds of young people boost their confidence and inspired them to build a future, for themselves and for their families. It is hard not to feel an immense sense of pride in what we have achieved.”
Reinventing Recruitment On the Rails
The Get into Railways programme takes place over four-weeks across classroom and field-based learning provided by GTR with pastoral and financial wrap-around care provided through The Prince’s Trust. The scheme has seen GTR completely re-think traditional recruitment approaches in order increase the diversity of its workforce and access a bigger talent pool.
Michelle Clark, the Head of Employee Experience at Govia Thameslink Railways, added: “Working with The Prince’s Trust has been revolutionary in helping us create opportunities for young people who need them the most whilst maintaining our incredibly high standards of working.
“This meant asking tough questions of ourselves around recruiting and onboarding team members from different societal backgrounds with different needs. For example, we created a network of fully trained staff mentors, who have provided over 800 hours of dedicated mentoring over five years so we have complete peace of mind that we can get the most out of the talents these young people have.”
Alban Stowe, Senior Head of National Public Sector Partnerships at The Prince’s Trust, said: “Our recent Futures at Stake report has shown that 46% of young people don’t feel like they have any role models in the community, and sadly, 33% say they do not feel their communities care about them. This is why initiatives such as Get into Railways and the work of companies like GTR are so important: they don’t just provide direct skills and opportunities to young people, they have a robust economic benefit and show young people they can have a real stake in their communities.”
Guy Battle, Chief Executive Officer, Social Value Portal, said: “GTR and the Prince’s Trust have developed a programme together that is generating significant social value. Clearly the most important value comes through the stories of the young people whose lives have been transformed through being given a job, but it is also useful to understand the social value in financial terms. The programme has generated at least £1.6m in social value since the partnership began; a number which is calculated by drawing on the fiscal savings and economic benefits of a company going above and beyond to offer job opportunities to unemployed young people.”
Gillian Keegan, Member of Parliament for Chichester, said: “Having personally benefited from a brilliant apprenticeship I fully understand the vital role employer-sponsored apprenticeships can play in shaping young people’s careers and lives.
“On its fifth birthday, I want to congratulate the GTR and the Prince’s Trust for this remarkable programme and I look forward to seeing what amazing opportunities they will continue to deliver over the next five years.”
Careers On Track
Najla Almutairi, 27, is a Station Assistant based at London Victoria. Najla arrived in the UK from Saudi Arabia aged 16 with her mum. Najla gained a degree in architecture, but during her studies her mother fell seriously ill. After graduating, Najla spent a year and a half in part-time work while caring for her mum and younger siblings but sought a better position to support her family. It was a daunting time as Najla didn’t know where to start and didn’t have a CV. Eventually she found the Prince’s Trust, who gave careers guidance and put her on the Get into Railways programme in partnership with Govia Thameslink Railway.
Following a work placement, she landed a job as a Station Assistant and was given a supportive mentor. Najla, who is now giving back by acting as a Young Ambassador for the Prince’s Trust, said: “I enjoy every day working on the railway. I love being part of our team and assisting passengers. My ambition is to progress into a management role and to develop leadership qualities to enable me to inspire and support more young people.”
Prayer Okpaka, 26, lives in Hackney and has two young sons and this year became a Dispatcher at London Bridge after completing the scheme, he said:
“I worked full-time in a bookmaker, but I wanted something where I could see myself progressing and learning new skills.
“I rang up about the Get into programme and that’s how it all started. I then did my two-week placement at London Bridge and it felt like home. I made new friends really quickly and they were hoping I would come back after the two weeks.”
Otis Mitchell, 26, is a father of three from Luton. Several years ago, a back injury made him reconsider his career options and led him to follow his childhood dream - working on the railway. He said of the programme:
“I sent in my CV and things moved very quickly. I was invited for an interview the following day, and then there was a taster day. I was a bit nervous at first, but it was a good experience and I learnt about CV building, first aid, conflict management and all about Govia Thameslink Railway. For the two-week placement, I was based at Finsbury Park and King’s Cross stations. I really enjoyed it, especially meeting new people and being out of my comfort zone.”
Ben O’Day, 24, lives in Peterborough and is a Hitchin-based Rail Enforcement Officer. He is looking forward to becoming a Train Driver:
“I was 18. I was a typical teenager in that I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with my life and a I lacked motivation.
“A lot of employers would read your CV and say you don’t have a lot of experience, but it’s difficult because you’re 18. You need to get experience somewhere. The Prince’s Trust aren’t like that. They see what skills you have and ask you where you would like to go, which is cool. They don’t shy away from a challenge.”
The social value has been calculated using the National TOMs Framework and verified by the Social Value Portal. The proxy value for employing a person not in employment has been built using data from the Unit Cost Database. Fiscal value to the government comprises benefit payments (worklessness and housing benefits) and foregone tax and national insurance receipts.
About The Prince’s Trust
Youth charity The Prince’s Trust helps young people to develop the confidence and skills they need to realise their ambitions, so that they can live, learn and earn. Founded by The Prince of Wales in 1976, the charity supports 11 to 30 year-olds who are unemployed, struggling at school and at risk of exclusion.
Many of the young people helped by The Trust are in or leaving care, facing issues such as homelessness, mental health problems, or have been in trouble with the law. The programmes offered by the charity give vulnerable young people the practical and financial support needed to stabilise their lives, helping develop self-esteem and skills for work. Three in four young people supported by The Prince’s Trust move into work, education or training.
The Trust has helped over 970,000 young people to date and supports over 100 more each day.
Further information about The Prince’s Trust is available at princes-trust.org.uk or on 0800 842 842.
Govia Thameslink Railway
Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) operates Thameslink, Great Northern, Southern and Gatwick Express services as follows:
- Thameslink – cross-London services between Bedford/Peterborough/Cambridge and Brighton/Horsham/Littlehampton/East Grinstead, and between Luton/St Albans and Sutton/Wimbledon/Rainham; plus services between London and Sevenoaks
- Great Northern – services between London and Welwyn, Hertford, Peterborough, Cambridge and King’s Lynn
- Southern – services between London and the Sussex coast (Brighton, Worthing, Eastbourne, Bognor Regis, Hastings) and parts of Surrey, Kent and Hampshire (Ashford International, Southampton, Portsmouth)
- Gatwick Express – fast, non-stop direct services between Gatwick Airport and London Victoria
GTR is currently the most punctual of the large and complex operators in UK rail according to 'On Time' statistics released by the Office of Rail and Road for May, June and July 2019, and fourth of all train operators in the UK