Data analysts Gurveer Duley and Chris Kerrigan with apprentice Keya Allen in TfWM's Regional Transport Co-ordination Centre
Data analysts Gurveer Duley and Chris Kerrigan with apprentice Keya Allen in TfWM's Regional Transport Co-ordination Centre

Transport Skills Academy to help fill 60,000 jobs on region's rail, road, bus and tram networks

This National Apprenticeship Week (5th-11th February), the Transport Skills Academy (TSA) is encouraging local people in the West Midlands to consider a career in transport.

By 2035, the West Midlands will need to fill nearly 60,000 new jobs in the sector to help operate its growing rail, road, bus and tram networks. To help meet this demand, the TSA – founded by Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) – was launched in 2022 to provide a one-stop destination, inspiring the future workforce to choose a career in transport while upskilling its existing workforce.

To address the skills gap, apprenticeships play a vital role in providing an earn while you learn option for those looking to develop their careers. TfWM currently employs apprentices across a range of programmes in different areas of the business, including health and safety, project management, business administration, digital and data, chartered manager and senior leader, with more apprenticeships being planned.

After identifying the skills shortage and rising demand, the TSA fostered working relationships with organisations across the region. This includes Birmingham City Council, Wolverhampton City Council, Black Country Transport, Midland Metro Alliance and West Midlands Combined Authority – all of which have embraced and supported transport-related apprenticeships.

After working in retail for five years, Birmingham resident Keya Allen wanted a career that offered job security and opportunities. She joined an eight-week junior software development skills bootcamp, and on completion, secured a job at TfWM.

Keya is now doing a higher apprenticeship in DevOps, learning a wide range of skills from upgrading databases to looking after the road traffic collisions data downloader. Her enthusiasm and thirst for learning was recognised just last month, with Keya named as West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) Apprentice of the Year.

Data analysts Gurveer Duley and Chris Kerrigan with apprentice Keya Allen in TfWM's Regional Transport Co-ordination Centre.

Transport for West Midlands colleagues are currently receiving transport-related training and are encouraged to learn at all stages of their career journey. Catherine Rooney, project officer at TfWM, undertook an associate project management apprenticeship to strengthen her skillset and experience. Following completion of her apprenticeship, Catherine had the opportunity to lead a project creating an Active Travel Centre of Excellence, supporting the TSA’s work, inspiring new entrants into a career in active travel.

In the last year, Birmingham City Council offered two level six transport planning degree apprenticeships and successfully filled both roles. The transport planning team has hugely benefitted from bringing young people into their team to share their learnings and ideas from their degree courses and are helping to shape the future of the sector.

When asked why he decided to start an apprenticeship, apprentice transport planner in the city centre team at Birmingham City Council, Ben Butler, said: “I believe that an apprenticeship is an ideal way to establish a solid foundation within a career. The structured nature of apprenticeships allows for ample opportunities for continuous development and learning, which helps to facilitate the transition into professional working without overwhelming pressure.”

Wolverhampton City Council found similar experiences when employing apprentices with Black Country Transport, who offer two positions annually alongside two graduate placements. Employers found that the individuals coming through apprenticeship schemes were able to improve the overall skill base of the transport team over time, and they are looking to expand on this in future years.

Emily Cooper, transport planner degree apprentice at Black Country Transport, added: “This apprenticeship is a great opportunity to gain skills in design and writing, communicating, negotiating, project management, taking the lead on smaller tasks within a wider project and working for the best outcome for everybody. You can progress to many jobs using the skills and experience gained here.” Emily splits her time working between Wolverhampton, Sandwell, and Birmingham.



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