ScotRail targets more diverse apprenticeship programme

Last updated: Monday, 7 March 2022

ScotRail is aiming to attract more women, members of the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic community, and disabled people into our flagship Modern Apprenticeship Programme.

Traditionally, we have had an older, white, male dominated workforce, something which the rail industry, including ScotRail, is now working to change.

Since the 2020 ‘Not all engineers wear hard hats’ campaign, ScotRail has been committed to breaking down stereotypes and attracting young people from all backgrounds into our apprenticeship programme.

Currently, there are 24 apprentices working across the various parts of the business, including engineering, customer services, and procurement.

The lack of diversity in young people taking up apprenticeships is a UK-wide challenge. For example, women currently make up only 12 per cent of Britain’s engineers, with just nine per cent from Black, Asian, or Minority Ethnic backgrounds, so the country faces a significant skills and diversity challenge in the sector.

Due to Covid-19 restrictions, ScotRail, like many businesses, had been unable to take on any apprentices. However, in 2021, we took on 16 young people in Modern Apprenticeship roles at various locations across Scotland, the highest annual intake in the last five years.

We are committed to developing a workforce as diverse as the communities it serves. Since 2017, the number of female train drivers has increased by nearly 40 per cent. And the number of female conductors employed has also risen since 2017, by 16 per cent. ScotRail is working with various partners to raise the profile of the opportunities available across the company.

ScotRail has also been officially recognised by the Top Employers Institute (TEI) as a Top Employer 2022 in the United Kingdom.

Independent research from the TEI found the business provides exceptional employee conditions, nurtures and develops talent throughout all levels of the organisation and has demonstrated its leadership status in the HR environment.

Shauna Burns, ScotRail Year 1 Apprentice Engineer, said:

“You do hear in engineering that there's not very many females, but just proving that we can do it and having more people in it, would just be amazing because we can do it.

“It's the exact same for us as it is for a male in the job.

“And for me, getting a job, proving that I can do it is such an amazing achievement.

“It just shows that we can do it and it doesn't matter what gender you are.”

Adam Docherty, ScotRail Year 1 Procurement Apprentice, said:

“I was studying supply chain management at college when I came across the ScotRail advertisement.

“I was looking for an apprenticeship for a few years, so when I saw the opportunity, I thought I should go for it.

“I'd spoken to my lecturers who knew apprentices that had worked with ScotRail, and they'd been really good with them.

“And then on top of that, it's a massive company in Scotland, so it's good to get your first job with a company that's well known.”

Neil Archibald, ScotRail Head of Strategic Workforce Planning, said:

“Traditionally, apprenticeships in the rail industry haven’t attracted women or people from Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic communities.

“There have never been more varied and exciting apprenticeship opportunities at ScotRail, and we want to show that there’s a place for everyone in this business.

"ScotRail is proud to support the Scottish Government’s Young Persons Guarantee and we’re passionate about providing opportunities for young people right across the country.

“We are committed to creating an engaging early careers experience which will help us recruit and retain the next generation of our railway family.”