Thursday 16 Sep 2010


Region & Route:
Wales & Western: Western
| Wales & Western

Graduates in the South West are encouraged to put themselves forward to join Network Rail’s 2011 graduate scheme.  The company is looking for up to 100 bright sparks across Britain to help shape tomorrow’s railway.

According to latest industry statistics, around 10,000 graduates in the South West compete for jobs on average each year.   For candidates to stand apart from competition, graduates must also demonstrate that they have all-rounded qualities and practical skills and knowledge that can meet business needs, says Network Rail.

Iain Coucher, Network Rail chief executive said: “A successful railway is vital to Britain’s economic growth and prosperity. To deliver this we must continue to hire top graduate talent. However, there is a worrying increase in graduate candidates who have little more to offer than school leavers. Many have seemingly coasted through university without getting any sort of a grasp of the realities of business.”

“In these tough and competitive times, students must do more to make themselves ready for work. Universities and businesses must play their part in shaping learning that will be meaningful, practical and valuable to prospective employers.  If we continue to simply churn out ever increasing numbers of graduates rather than produce quality, rounded individuals, the talent pool on which British business relies will be a rather diluted one.”

Graduate engineer at Network Rail Helen Warren commented on how she improved her employability: “Don’t concentrate solely on your degree. Join clubs and societies, especially the engineering society if that’s your specialism.  Another great way to improve your prospects is to gain work experience or apply for a summer placement scheme, which will help prospective employers see you as focussed and determined to succeed in your career.”    

Helen graduated from Plymouth University with a degree in Civil and Coastal Engineering (MEng) and joined Network Rail last year.  She is now working in Bristol and is responsible for specifying the work scope of an ongoing multi-million scheme to renew tracks in the Great Western region.   

Opportunities for graduates from the South West are also available beyond the region.   William Hilary, who joined Network Rail as a graduate from Exeter University is now working in London.

William said: “Summer placements or a year in industry programme can provide useful experience in your chosen field as well as insight into the dynamics of the real working environment. Doing this not only helps bring your degree to life but also possibilities to network.

“I was also lucky enough to spend six months in Sicily as part of my course which enabled me to broaden my experience and gain an insight to engineering from an international perspective.  At university get involved in sports teams or clubs and societies and the student union. There is something for everyone and getting involved shows potential employers that you are responsible, proactive and engaged.”

Network Rail has also conducted a survey of around 300 graduates who have entered the Network Rail scheme in recent years. It found:

  • Half (50%) already had an understanding of the career options open to them before university 
  • As students, they got careers advice from a number of sources with 76% choosing the internet, 71% university and 58% friends. Less than half (37%) got advice from careers advisers.
  • Less than one in five (16%) believe their university course prepared them for employment, with three quarters (76%) believing it only did so in some ways
  • Three quarters (75%) undertook some work experience or voluntary work during or after their course, with 91% of these believing that it made them more attractive to potential employers. 

Notes to editors

Network Rail is also starting a pilot programme that appoints Network Rail’s graduates as envoys for the company and a link to their former universities.   They will help to arrange for expert engineers from the company to speak in lectures, or provide information on the industry that may be useful for students.

The graduates will be placed across a number of disciplines in the business including civil, mechanical and electrical engineering, operations and customer service, information management, finance, commercial property, and project management

Graduates can log on to for more information about the scheme

Contact information

Passengers / community members
Network Rail national helpline
03457 11 41 41

Latest travel advice
Please visit National Rail Enquiries

Network Rail press office -Western route
07730 354394

About Network Rail

We own, operate and develop Britain's railway infrastructure; that's 20,000 miles of track, 30,000 bridges, tunnels and viaducts and the thousands of signals, level crossings and stations. We run 20 of the UK's largest stations while all the others, over 2,500, are run by the country's train operating companies.

Usually, there are almost five million journeys made in the UK and over 600 freight trains run on the network. People depend on Britain's railway for their daily commute, to visit friends and loved ones and to get them home safe every day. Our role is to deliver a safe and reliable railway, so we carefully manage and deliver thousands of projects every year that form part of the multi-billion pound Railway Upgrade Plan, to grow and expand the nation's railway network to respond to the tremendous growth and demand the railway has experienced - a doubling of passenger journeys over the past 20 years.

Follow us on Twitter: @networkrail
Visit our online newsroom: