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The rail operator's trainee driver apprentices kick off training using desk-based simulators
The rail operator's trainee driver apprentices kick off training using desk-based simulators

Press release -

Rail operator reports apprentice boost with uptake driven by women and Black and Minority Ethnic recruits

The number of 2021 apprentices exceeded targets by 20% as 31 to 40 year-old’s look to make career switches and return to work.

The number of apprentices recruited by rail firms Southern, Thameslink and Great Northern in 2021 exceeded its target of 200 by almost 20 per cent. In the past year, Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) has provided new career opportunities for 239 people, aged from 16 all the way to over 61.

The rail operator says the 31–40-year-old age group has played a considerable role in this uptake, accounting for almost 40 per cent of the total number of apprentices from 2017 to 2021. On top of this, the employer has been successful once again in its commitment to attract a greater number of female and BME applicants. More than a third of new recruits this year were women (34 per cent) whilst 27 per cent identified as Black and Minority Ethnic.

The rail operator’s apprenticeship programme is open to people of all ages and backgrounds. Parent company GTR is seeking to reach as diverse a range of potential applicants as possible to support the creation of a more inclusive industry. To support this the firm is collaborating with partners including, Not Going To Uni, Socially Recruited, RMP Enterprise, The Association for BME Engineers and Springpod to attract interest from around the country to work across the Southern, Thameslink and Great Northern routes.

David Jackson, Apprenticeship Specialist at Govia Thameslink Railway, said: “Working in rail provides an opportunity for people of all ages to invigorate their careers in an industry which provides first class training and long-term job prospects. As passenger numbers increase and the country starts to get back on track, we’re delighted to be able to offer even more fantastic apprenticeship opportunities to work in the rail industry.”

This year the rail operator is aiming to increase the number of apprenticeships on offer, with programmes available across departments, including engineering, customer services, train driving and administration.

Anyone considering applying for an apprenticeship with GTR can sign up for alerts at:

David, who started as a trainee in the ticket office himself, continued, “Glowing testimonials from our successful apprentices – from this year’s cohort as well as those who joined the railway as an apprentice and have since worked their way through the ranks – shows just how many doors a scheme like this can open.”

From helping individuals to take their first steps in a professional career, to supporting those switching careers later in life, GTR's Apprenticeship schemes are open to all. 

  • Ellie Irving knew she didn't want to go to university - choosing instead to get straight into the working world. After completing her apprenticeship, she now has a full-time job at GTR. Read her story here.
  • After a decade spent in the aviation industry, Stefan Hug decided it was time for a change. Aged 31, he feels like he's starting all over again and is excited to be part of Southern's Driver Apprenticeship programme. Read his story here.
  • Isobel Rowe gained one of the highest marks nationally in her Health & Safety apprenticeship. She's now a permanent member of the rail operator's Health and Wellbeing team. Read her story here.
  • At just 16-years-old, Jensen Joy is one of GTR's youngest apprentices. He has joined several others to start his career in engineering. Read his story here.

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Notes to editors

  • To keep passengers and staff safe, there is an enhanced cleaning regime focused on touch points
  • GTR sanitises all 2,700 of its train carriages every day and uses a long-lasting viricide across stations, trains and staff areas which kills coronavirus for weeks at a time 
  • All trains with air conditioning continually refresh the air in each carriage every 6-9 minutes 
  • Weekly Covid safety checks are carried out across trains and stations, looking at cleaning and passenger information
  • Find a quieter train with our online passenger loading prediction service. At National Rail Enquiries, you can also subscribe to journey alerts with information on busier services
  • Over 1,000 touch-free hand sanitisers have been installed at stations
  • We have one-way and queuing systems ready to apply at our busiest stations if necessary
  • We promote the government’s offer of twice-weekly lateral flow tests to our staff
  • E-tickets are available at 60 stations to reduce social contact through ticket buying
  • Customers can order a free Key smartcard online, buy a new season ticket online, and add it to their card simply by tapping it to their phone or a station ticket gate or validator 



For more information, contact the press office on 0203 750 2031.

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

Govia Thameslink Railway
United Kingdom