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Break the Stigma to Apprenticeships says UK’s biggest rail freight operator

“Break the stigma!!” is the message being broadcast by the UK’s biggest rail freight operator DB Cargo UK to mark National Apprenticeship Week (Mar 4-8).

The company’s Apprenticeship Manager Kerrie Talbot claims too many people are still being put off applying for apprenticeships because of out-dated perceptions and prejudices.

Kerrie recognises that more education on Apprenticeships needs to be done with schools, parents and employers to enable students and employees to view apprenticeships as an alternative form of achieving a qualification through practical, hands-on learning.

And she has called on the Government and UK business to make the most of National Apprenticeship Week to promote the merits of modern-day apprenticeships which she argues offer a unique opportunity to upskill existing employees whilst also affording the next generation the opportunity to “earn and learn”. DB Cargo UK currently has 125 apprentices on its books with plans to almost double this number by the end of 2019.

But Kerrie said it was often hard work overcoming people’s perceptions that apprenticeships are only for those young people who found the academic route to employment – through college or university – too challenging.

“At DB Cargo UK we have had great success shattering some of the myths surrounding apprenticeships. Some people still see them as an inferior option to further education, but nothing could be further from the truth.

“In fact, they have many advantages, particularly since the introduction of university tuition fees. Apprentices can earn as well as learn, rather than spend years at university relying on student loans and racking up huge debts, with no guarantee of employment at the end of it,” said Kerrie.

But she added that that it was also important to recognise that apprenticeships are now a great option for people at any stage of their career, not just school-leavers.

“They are also a great route for those looking to re-enter the workplace, or those wanting to reskill or change careers,” said Kerrie.

Doncaster-based DB Cargo UK offers a wide range of Level 3, 4 and 5 apprenticeships for roles ranging from engineers to business administrators.

Earlier this year it became the first UK rail freight company to offer a Level 3 apprenticeship aimed at addressing a national shortage of train drivers. The apprenticeship has been developed in conjunction with the National College for High Speed Rail.

The company now has plans to launch a range of new Level 6 and 7 apprenticeships in 2019.

As part of Apprenticeship week Kerrie will be actively going out to schools to engage with students and parents to promote Apprenticeships for the next generation.