Ramla Abshir-Slevin will have had easier days at the office since starting as East Croydon Station’s apprentice station manager last month.
Yesterday, the 32-year-old and her colleagues had to cope with having the station, one of the busiest in south-east England, shut down for three hours during a security alert as police dealt with a suspect vehicle parked nearby on Dingwall Road. Fortunately, no one was harmed, and the car was dealt with when specialists conducted a controlled explosion.
But meanwhile, dozens of trains and tens of thousands of passengers on a busy midweek morning had to be diverted and re-directed as the station was evacuated.
But then, learning on the job is all part of the apprenticeship with Govia Thameslink which Abshir-Slevin applied for successfully.
This week is National Apprenticeship and Careers Week, and Govia Thameslink Railway has decided to double the number of apprenticeships it will run in 2020.
The rail operator is expecting to offer 300 opportunities across 14 different roles, ranging from drivers, engineers and operations, to business and administration and marketing.
GTR say, “Open to people of all ages and backgrounds, the wider range of apprenticeships reflects the true diversity of opportunities and possibilities that a career in rail can offer. This offers the chance for current employees to expand their current skills base and for job-seekers to take on a new role which may not previously have been open to them.”
At 32, former dental nurse Abshir-Slevin is an example of that policy in action.
Abshir-Slevin came to London in 2008 from Switzerland and at the time didn’t speak much English. She started off by cleaning trains at Victoria before joining Southern. She worked in a variety of roles from being on the gate-line in South Croydon to platform staff at Balham.
In 2013, she had her daughter and in 2014 she took a full-time role in the ticket office at Victoria. She was keen to learn and was trained to submit the accounts.
But her ambitions did not stop there. “In January this year, a position for an apprentice station manager came up and I instantly knew I wanted the job,” she said.
“I applied and fortunately got it. For me, my greatest achievement in the railway has been to get where I am now. Not only do I get to do what I love, but I will be rewarded with a qualification at the end of this.”
Now her employers are looking for other equally capable candidates who want to fill Abshir-Slevin’s big platform shoes…
GTR say that their increased commitment to apprenticeships will help to bridge the looming skills gap in the rail industry, following warnings of a considerable technical skills shortage in the sector.
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