In June 2018, 140 young people visited London from the North-West for a three-day residential as part of a larger programme – ‘Fast Trackers’, which represented the single-largest Year of Engineering project in which Network Rail is involved. Hailing from Crewe, Liverpool, Manchester and Preston, the participants were selected from areas of the country with historically low higher-education uptake in an effort to shift their attitudes towards apprenticeships and university. Working in partnership with Mott MacDonald, Fast Trackers was delivered in its entirety by Network Rail engineering graduates on behalf of the National Collaborative Outreach Programme (NCOP).
The benefit to the students is already clear at this early stage, with exit surveys showing that 97% of participants rated the residential element as ‘good’ or ‘excellent’ and a 20% rise in positive attitudes towards pursuing higher education.
The project also won a Construction News Talent Awards Initiative award in November 2018.
Going forward, the Fast Trackers 2019 programme hopes to engage over 1000 learners nationally.