Inspiring the next generation of rail professionals at the Big Bang Fair and UCAS Discovery Birmingham


Inspiring the next generation of rail professionals at the Big Bang Fair and UCAS Discovery Birmingham

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Routes into Rail made an impact on students, teachers and parents at two recent events: the Big Bang Fair and UCAS Discovery Birmingham.

The Big Bang Fair is a national event dedicated to inspiring young minds to pursue careers in STEM. Routes into Rail – along with funding organisations Network Rail, HS2, Freightliner, Amey and RDG – connected with hundreds of students aged 10-14.

They ran an interactive and exciting activity for attendees – each participant received a ‘ticket to ride’ and had to collect three stamps by engaging in various activities with the funders. This hands-on approach encouraged active participation and provided valuable insights into the diverse career paths available in the rail industry.

UCAS Discovery Exhibitions are events organised by UCAS for secondary school students to learn about university options and potential career paths. Routes into Rail attended UCAS Discovery Birmingham in late June.

Apprenticeships were a popular topic of discussion with students. Degree apprenticeships provided an interesting prospect for students and one that most of them were unaware of. They were enticed by the idea of attaining a degree-level qualification without incurring significant debt. Routes into Rail’s conversations with students also revealed a keen interest in engineering and an appreciation for the higher-than-average salaries and career progression opportunities available within the rail sector.

A crucial aspect of both the Big Bang Fair and UCAS Discovery Birmingham was the presence of parents and teachers, who play a vital role in shaping children’s educational and career choices. Parents and teachers were interested to learn about the wide range of career opportunities in rail, including apprenticeships, as well as the great salaries and perks offered by rail jobs.

There was a noticeable lack of knowledge among students, parents and teachers about the rail industry and the wide variety of roles it offers. This knowledge gap further emphasised the value of initiatives like Routes into Rail in raising awareness and myth-busting.

Ashleigh Balme, Partnership Marketing Manager at Routes into Rail, said: “It was an incredible opportunity to engage with hundreds of young people who are on the precipice of making their career choice, whilst also engaging with parents and teachers to promote the rail industry as a credible career route for their young people.”

Matt Goody, who graduated last year with a degree-level apprenticeship in Data Analytics from NSAR and attended the UCAS event as part of the Routes into Rail team, said: “It was rewarding being able to speak about my experience as an apprentice and seeing people engage with what I was saying and take it on board.”