Inspiring tomorrow’s workforce

Enabling access to the right skills, at the right time, from the UK’s diverse talent pool.

Attracting future talent is a top priority for Network Rail to transform Britain’s railway and increase capacity. This will be achieved by attracting future talent capable of delivering a digital railway. There is currently a substantial Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) skills shortage across Europe, particularly in the railway engineering industry. This shortage is likely to continue in future, with predictions that Britain will need at least 100,000 new STEM university graduates every year until 2020, just to ensure supply can match demand. This, combined with the need to grow the capacity of our rail network and harness digital technology, means it is vital we equip young people today with the skills needed for tomorrow.

Why is inspiring tomorrow’s workforce important to Network Rail?

Work to inspire tomorrow’s workforce is a valuable way in which Network Rail is working towards the RSSB principles of ‘Putting rail in reach of people’ and ‘Being an employer of choice’, as well as ‘Supporting the economy’ through the opportunities offered to local communities.

What is Network Rail’s approach to inspiring tomorrow’s workforce?

The key factors involved in inspiring tomorrow’s workforce are education and communication. We educate young people on the diverse job opportunities on offer at Network Rail with the hope of encouraging a wider demographic of applicants. To achieve this, we engage with schools and youth groups to deliver talks around STEM careers and inspire people to consider Network Rail as an employer. Whilst this local engagement is typically undertaken by STEM ambassadors, full-time staff can engage with this activity on a voluntary capacity, through attending school assemblies and university recruitment fairs. To maximise the efforts of our employee resource to carry out volunteering in schools we want to define a set of schools, 6th form colleges & UTCs we should target nationally – based on gender, BAME, (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) stats, social mobility & OFSTED results. This will mean we can achieve a sustained impact where it matters most.

Alongside this, Network Rail is partnered with the Barclays Life Skills programme, which aims to inspire and enable young people through promoting work experience opportunities. Through this scheme, Network Rail improves its recruitment transparency and widens the candidate demographic.

Why is early engagement important?

Targeting schools with exciting STEM activity boxes and employee lead presentations often inspires students and reveals potential work opportunities. Quiz leaflets handed out in the sessions drive traffic to the Awesomerailways website which is created to engage and spark the interest of children.

By implementing early engagement, the annual shortfall of 59000 engineering graduates and technicians will begin to improve, in support of the UK skills agenda and number of engineering related skills in the rail industry. In England in 2017 only 8% of females started apprenticeships and only 12% of women work in engineering occupations, interactions through workshops aims to improve the number of females entering STEM related jobs. This supports the Diversity & inclusion agenda and specifically the 20 by 20 initiative to increase our gender imbalance.

Use volunteer leave to inspire tomorrow’s workforce

Volunteering for local charities and community organisations is a good way to invest in local communities and improve your social impact. See the guidance note in the side-bar or visit for suggested volunteering opportunities.

If you work for Network Rail, visit connect/volunteering to find out more or email for further support.

Key contacts:

For general enquiries please email

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