Friday 17 Sep 2010


Region & Route:
| Eastern: Anglia
| Eastern

Graduates in West Anglia 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.

As the rail company launches its graduate scheme for 2011, it warned Britain risked a generation of graduates no more employable than school leavers unless universities and business worked better together to deliver a programme relevant and practical for the commercial world.  Whilst applications for the scheme are up, there is a worrying trend of candidates with little or no awareness of how business operates, and in some cases, engineering graduates with a surprising lack of understanding of the basics.

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.”

Oliver Nenadovic graduated from Cambridge University in 2008 with a MEng in Electrical and Electronic Engineering.  He is now working for Network Rail in London as a project engineer with a focus on power supply and electrification.  Commenting on how he improved his employability, he said: “When you are immersed in the bubble of university, it is sometimes easy to forget that there is more to take away then just a degree and debt.  I identified the skills I needed to develop myself such as leadership, innovation and teamwork and got involved in activities to strengthen them. I volunteered to lead a design project, helped out at an engineering teaching event for local schoolchildren and captained the football team. This along with getting some relevant work experience during the summer months really helped make me stand out.”

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

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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.

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