ScotRail makes strides to break down barriers

Last updated: Wednesday, 21 September 2022

ScotRail is making strides to break down barriers and create a more diverse and inclusive workforce.

The railway has traditionally seen an older, white, male dominated workforce, something which ScotRail, and the wider industry, has been working to change.

Over the past few years, ScotRail has been involved in a number of initiatives which aim to break down stereotypes and attract more disabled people, women, and members of the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic community into the railway.

As part of ScotRail’s ambitious early careers strategy, the train operator has set itself the target of increasing the number of apprentices tenfold by 2025. To help achieve this, ScotRail took on 16 young people in Modern Apprenticeship roles during 2021, the highest intake of apprentices in the past five years.

Among the new recruits was Ross Henderson, ScotRail’s first deaf Modern Apprentice.

This International Week of Deaf People, which runs 19-25 September, ScotRail has partnered with Skills Development Scotland (SDS) to tell Ross’ story in the hope that it will encourage more people from all backgrounds to consider apprenticeships as a viable career path, as well as a career in the railway.

Ross, a Customer Service Modern Apprentice based in Aberdeen, joined ScotRail in August 2021 after seeing the apprenticeship advertised on .

Since starting in the role, 19-year-old Ross has seen his confidence grow and now thrives on social interaction with customers.

Ross’s story is available to watch on - the website developed by SDS - with information on taking an apprenticeship and current apprenticeship vacancies.

Skills Development Scotland, in partnership with equality organisations, works with employers to help them attract, support, and retain individuals to create more inclusive and diverse workforces.

In Scotland, latest figures by SDS show there are 4,836 Modern Apprentices in training who have self-identified as having a disability, with 3,334 starting an apprenticeship in the last year.

Every day, employers such as ScotRail advertise hundreds of apprenticeship jobs available across Scotland on

The train operator also plans to offer a clear career pathway with opportunities for existing staff to take advantage of new and innovative early careers programmes. This includes more engagement with Scottish schools in each of the mainland local authority areas and enhanced placement partnerships, graduate schemes, and intern programmes.

Scottish Apprenticeships are open to all ages, abilities, and backgrounds, with support for those with additional support needs. Enhanced funding contributions are available towards the training of those who are disabled and care-experienced, up to and including age 29.

Joanne Maguire, ScotRail Chief Operating Officer, said:

“Scotland’s Railway is for everyone, and that extends to both our customers and our workforce.

“We’re passionate about providing opportunities for people of all backgrounds. We want to show that there’s a place for everyone in the rail industry, and that everyone has something to offer.

“Having had the pleasure of meeting Ross twice myself, it has been fantastic to see how much he has grown and developed since starting his Modern Apprenticeship with ScotRail, and I hope his story inspires more people to consider the railway, and apprenticeships, as a viable career path.”

Katie Hutton, Skills Development Scotland Director of National Training Programmes, said:

“Employers need individuals from a range of backgrounds to develop a diverse workforce that reflects the communities they are in and serve.

“People with different abilities bring unique perspectives and experience to a business and apprenticeships support people to build on their skills and meet business needs.”