Social Mobility in the Transport Sector, an Interview with TfL

There is an assumption that if you work for Transport for London (TfL), then you must be a Tube driver, Ticket Inspector or a Customer Services Assistant. To some extent, this is unsurprising – these are the jobs at TfL that you see each day when making a journey using our transport network. However, there is a whole range of other careers and jobs, often hidden out of sight from customers, which are equally vital to keeping London moving. For example, we have data scientists that look at how people travel across the network, so they can predict and improve customer journeys, as well as engineers who design what our streets, bridges and trains will look like in the future. When you consider that more than 31 million journeys are made across the network every day, whether that's on the Tube, buses, river, streets or bike, it's no wonder that there are so many different ways young people can play a role in ensuring our customers get to where they need to be. Moreover, working in the transport industry, whether that is in London or elsewhere, offers young people the exciting opportunity to shape cities, develop economies and support growth. This is why it is vital that as an organisation we have a targeted approach to attracting young talent, demystifying what it means to work in transport – we need to ensure that they realise the brilliant futures available to them in the sector.

One aspect of this is making sure that we recruit a diverse range of motivated individuals in order to better reflect and serve our customers. Ensuring that your employees are not all cut from the same cloth also leads to creativity and innovation. By having lots of people with a variety of experiences working together as part of a team, they will each have their own approach that can inform their colleagues' and vice versa – they are also going to reflect the customers that you serve. This is why, along with the usual recruitment techniques, we have an ambitious schools engagement programme that targets schools with high deprivation across the capital. We have specifically mapped and worked with schools that have a high percentage of free schools meals, with their student population consisting of some of the most disadvantaged young people in London. We want to make sure that everyone realises the opportunities that are available to them, regardless of their class, gender or ethnicity.

We also have a comprehensive outreach programme, starting in primary school and culminating in our schools competition - Innovate TfL in association with Cleshar. It is a project-based competition that is open to Year 12 and Year 13 students at schools, colleges and youth organisations – this year's competition is currently open for them to sign up to until the end of September 2018. As part of the challenger, the students generate solutions to the issues currently facing TfL and the transport industry, such as air quality and safety. The entries are shortlisted and the finalists are invited to present to industry experts from TfL and Cleshar. The competition provides students with an understanding of how organisations such as TfL operate, while teaching them new skills, as they have to adopt different roles, such as project manager, during the challenge. They learn how the subjects they study at school are transferable to the workplace, helping to dispel any myths about the transport industry. As part of their prize, they also undertake work placements at TfL.

As well as inspiring students while they are at school, it is vital that we also offer them an opportunity to get their first step on the career ladder. This is why we have an array of apprenticeship schemes for those who are interested in working in the transport industry. Whether they want to work in cyber security or quantity surveying, we do not expect applicants to know everything before they start. We are looking for individuals who are resilient, relish the chance to learn and take on new challenges and are passionate about making a difference to the capital. It provides them with the fantastic prospect of earning a salary whilst studying for an industry-recognised qualification.

We also appreciate that not everyone is in a position or ready to apply for their first job –Steps into Work, our year-long programme which welcomed its ninth intake in 2018, offers people aged 16 and above with mild to moderate learning disabilities and those on the autism spectrum the opportunity to hone their abilities and gain work experience. Students learn key skills, such as time management and customer service, which are transferable and vital to any organisation. They also study for a BTEC Level 1 qualification in Work Skills at the same time. The success of the scheme is evident – it has provided more than 80 people the chance to study whilst developing their skills in a work place environment and TfL has hosted more than 250 placements. The programme is run in partnership with Barnet and Southgate College and Remploy, a provider of specialist employment and skills support for disabled people and those with health conditions.

These are just a few of the things we do to inspire the next generation and rectify the misconception that the only jobs in the transport industry are based in our stations and bus garages. By breaking down the myths and giving students the opportunity to experience what it would be like working at TfL, we're showing them the world can truly be their oyster.

Want to know more about employing apprentices?

  • Complete the online enquiry form on GOV.UK or call the National Apprenticeship Service on 08000 150 600.

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