McGinley extends NIS partnership as HS2 apprentice milestone reached in the Midlands

Posted on 17 Oct 2023 by Joe Bush

One of the UK’s leading recruitment and support services for the infrastructure markets has extended its long-term partnership with National Infrastructure Solutions (NIS).

McGinley Support Services, which sits on three labour desks on HS2, has successfully used the Wolverhampton-based training provider to train 50 apprentices in the Midlands and is planning to double this figure over the next 12 months.

The two companies have developed bespoke rail engineering operative and rail engineering technician apprenticeships that lead on to specialist training to help the individual develop and grow throughout the duration of the landmark project.

Importantly, the wraparound support provided by both organisations has successfully helped attract people who traditionally do not work in the sector, with the latest intake made up of 14% females (compared to three percent nationally), 51% from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds (BAME) and six percent prison leavers.

“We are determined to use HS2 to change lives for the better and are passionate about opening up new opportunities for individuals who may need a second chance or may never have considered a possible career in the rail and civil engineering sector,” explained Fiona Burke, HR Director at McGinley.

“This vision is fast becoming a reality, especially in the Midlands where we are maximising the strategic relationship with National Infrastructure Solutions to successfully recruit over 50 apprentices and upskill 100 existing workers.”

She continued: “They share our social values and have been instrumental in helping us deliver what we have so far. Before we engaged, we were really struggling to find a training provider that offered us the pathways to get individuals ready for the apprenticeships and, importantly, the content in the courses that would give them work-ready skills.”

NIS was already running employability courses to help people to move into rail and civil engineering when it was approached by McGinley Support Services to help it with the flexi-apprenticeship agency arm of its business.

The initial focus was on getting the balance right between theory and practical hands-on training, so crucial to ensuring candidates pass their NVQ Level 2 and that they are ready to work on the project.

Bespoke training pathways have been created, whilst National Infrastructure Solutions has been able to maximise its dedicated rail training centre in the Black Country.

Davie Carns, Founder of NIS, added his support: “Our sector is at a tipping point when it comes to labour, with the workforce getting older and in urgent need of new blood. That’s why the apprenticeship scheme is so important and why we need to attract people that may never have considered working in our industry.

HS2 Apprentices (L)
L-R: Zahid Stevens, Julius Condison, Louie Baggott and Salihou Sillah (all apprentices at McGinley)

“The relationship with McGinley is really starting to pay dividends and we’ve got a strong pipeline of apprentices coming through the programme and about to start. It’s especially pleasing that we have been able to use our relationships in the Midlands to get individuals from care, prison and those who have suffered mental health issues engaged and looking forward to a more positive future.”

McGinley, which has recently been named as a Top 100 Apprentice Employer, will need to recruit a further 100 apprentices over the next twelve months in the Midlands as HS2 moves into the next phase.

There is also a strong focus on developing specialist training for the apprentices once they have gained their NVQ Level 2, with NIS finalising an offer around signalling and telecoms.

Fiona continued: “We don’t just want a training provider that delivers the same course for everyone, we want creativity and a willingness to come up with solutions.

“That’s what NIS does in abundance, whether that is helping us complete job-ready sessions in prisons, delivering confidence building sessions to help with interviews or coming up with unique content for advanced skills.

“HS2 in instrumental in providing jobs in the Midlands and, when it is complete, we want to look back at the role McGinley and NIS played, and say we’ve helped positively change the lives of hundreds of people through expert training and sustainable employment opportunities.”

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