According to the National College for High-Speed Rail, women account for just 9% of the UK’s engineering workforce and only 4% of rail engineers, so there is a clear need to encourage more women into the sector.
The WiTnE programme was organised alongside blue-chip railway and engineering companies Siemens, Arriva Rail, Thales, Telent and Morson Group and is providing women with invaluable opportunities in the industry. 43 women came to our initial information session day; 22 of whom started and successfully completed a two-week employability programme to give them the skills they need to prepare for work. Being on the course gave each learner a guaranteed work placement with a nominated employer, relevant to their sector of interest.
All learners who attended their work placements have been guaranteed interviews with their employers should they want full-time work at a later date. The event was widely regarded as a success by students and employers alike. Two learners from the cohort were even fast-tracked to the second round of interviews in their applications with Arriva Rail. And Arriva Rail was so impressed by their CONEL students that they are in discussions with CCCT, our Apprenticeship training arm, to recruit six new apprentices.
Nicola Sophia from Transport for London (TfL) said: “I would like to congratulate CONEL and all of the partners for the successful delivery of the WiTnE pre-employment programme. The candidates were all very pleased with their work placements.
“The candidates completed the programme with a greater appreciation of the transportation and engineering sectors, and the opportunities that wait for all our students, regardless of gender.”
We plan to run a similar themed programme 2-3 times a year with TfL, with the next one focusing on helping more people from black and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds get jobs in the transportation industry.
With women so underrepresented in construction and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) roles generally, CONEL has made the recruiting of women to our courses a priority. Our free short courses, in particular, have proved to be a very accessible way for women to get into these subjects. And with specialist free “Women into…” courses in carpentry & joinery, brickwork, and painting & decorating still enrolling for available for May and June, there are more opportunities for women to start their careers by learning with CONEL.