Govia Thameslink and The Prince’s Trust extend joint training programme

UK rail operator Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) and young people’s charity The Prince’s Trust have extended a joint training programme by a further two years.

The joint ‘Get Into Railways’ training programme has been extended a further two years and is committed to train at least 70 more young people.

The programme, funded by GTR and delivered in conjunction with The Prince’s Trust, has so far helped 182 18-25-year-olds gain skills and work experience since the start of the partnership in 2014, generating around £1.6m of social benefit to UK society over the past five years.

Of the total on the programme, 164 young people have completed the course and secured sustainable, permanent jobs in the GTR network, which covers Thameslink, Great Northern, Southern and Gatwick Express. And 14% of staff at the new-look London Bridge station have progressed through the programme.

The programme takes place over four weeks across classroom and field-based learning provided by GTR, with pastoral and financial care provided through The Prince’s Trust.

Successful graduates on the programme include train dispatcher Prayer Okpaka (above, centre), rail enforcement officer Ben O’Day (above, right) and station assistant Najla Almutairi (above, left).

Almutairi, who arrived in the UK aged 16 with her mum and who is now a young ambassador for The Prince’s Trust, said: “I enjoy every day working on the railway… My ambition is to progress into a management role and to develop leadership qualities to enable me to inspire and support more young people.”

Okpaka, who lives in Hackney with his two young sons, said: “I worked full time in a bookmakers, 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 two weeks.”

O’Day, who lives in Peterborough, said 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 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 where you would like to go, which is cool. They don’t shy away from a challenge.”

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