In partnership with West Coast Partnership Development – we hosted our first ever all-female apprentice event – to coincide with this year’s National Apprenticeship Week. Taking place at Alstom’s Crewe works, the event focussed around equipping the next generation of women in rail with skills for life.

In addition to several keynote speeches, the event featured an interactive mentoring session, where senior women from across our membership shared their insights and knowledge of how they have progressed into senior leadership roles, as a way of helping the apprentices to develop their careers, and their own leadership skills.

Women remain a minority in the rail industry, representing just 23% of the workforce last year according to the Office of Rail and Road. HS2 Ltd has implemented processes like blind sifting CVs to reduce hiring bias, and has made strong progress, increasing female representation to 39% of internal staff and 30% of supply chain staff. Yet clearly more progress is needed across the industry, both in encouraging new women into the industry and supporting them once they join.

Commenting on the event, Shamit Gaiger, Managing Director of West Coast Partnership Development said: “Events like this are a great opportunity to bring together women from across all levels in the industry to champion each other’s successes in a positive way. Diversity is an important passion of mine and it was fantastic to be part of an event that recognises all the contributions made by female apprentices. They are the next generation of talent and leaders, and it is our role, as senior women in rail, to continually inspire them and support their development.”

Susan Evans, Board Director, High Speed Rail Group said: “I was delighted to see such a strong turnout from women at all levels in their career at the High Speed Rail Group’s first ever dedicated event to female apprentices this week. Whilst there is still work to be done to diversify the industry, this week our members came together to demonstrate the importance of working together and supporting the younger generation who will one day do the same.”

Anne-Marie Rotter, HS2 Rolling Stock Project Director at Alstom said: “Alstom Crewe had the honour to host this landmark event for HSRG ‘Women as Leaders: Equipping the next generation with skills for life’. The event centred around amazing leaders from across the industry sharing their experience and offering advice to talented female apprentices, with lots of fruitful exchanges preparing the next generation of railway leaders.”

After attending the event, Sarah Curlett, Alstom’s Level 3 Rail Engineering Apprentice commented: “This event at Alstom Crewe has been really exciting and inspirational to attend.  Hearing very senior women’s stories and how they got to where they are now really motivates me to pursue my career to its full potential.  The mindset it has provided me and tips I have been given today, I will take with me throughout my whole career.  Building relations with other apprentices from other companies in a similar situation to me has also allowed me to relate to them and provide great networking opportunities.”

Katie Wickham-Harrison, Senior Technician at SYSTRA, said: “It’s been a fantastic day and a really great way to meet other women in the industry. Sharing our experiences and supporting each other is incredibly important to help boost representation, and ensure that the women leaders of the future are inspired and encouraged in their careers. I’ve learnt a lot, and will be able to take that back to my colleagues at SYSTRA to further enhance what we’re doing on equality, diversity and inclusion.”

Fiona Tiley, Associate Director, at Arup said: “As members of the HSRG Arup were delighted to participate in this event with two of our apprentices, Monique Brindley and Maisie Beal attending. As an industry mentor myself, it was a pleasure and privilege to meet so many talented and enthusiastic female apprentices from across the rail industry. The table session discussions were insightful – listening to each others’ challenges and sharing stories was an interesting and empowering experience.

Maisie Beal, Apprentice at Arup said: “The event was excellent, it was great to see so many women at a rail event.”