Three young unemployed people have been given full-time jobs at rail stations, including Bedford, after graduating from a programme run with youth charity The Prince’s Trust.
The three were part of a group of 11 who gained work experience and training in customer service at a number of stations under Thameslink’s Get Into Railways programme.
Passenger service director Stuart Cheshire said: “We identified three superstars from the group who we’re taking on full-time because they fit in with the attitudes and behaviours that can really change our business.
“The moment I met them at our end of course celebration event I said, ‘We have to keep these people in our organisation!’ We may also be able to find positions for the other eight if commercial conditions allow over the next 12 months.”
Tom Fuller, 21, is working on the ticket gates, helping passengers at Bedford.
Tom said: “Lots of people I know have got into work through Thameslink’s Prince’s Trust programme and it’s changed their lives. If you haven’t got the best grades it’s very difficult to even get a job interview. I like the fact I will be out there talking to passengers and helping them.”
Becky Emery, 20, from Flitwick, is working on the ticket gates at St Albans.
Becky said: “I left school without any qualifications and everyone asks for five GCSEs and it is so hard to get an interview. I’d kind of lost hope doing part-time dead-end jobs. Now I’m doing something I am proud of. This is life changing.”
Michael Suszek, 21, is working as a platform assistant at St Albans.
Michael graduated from university with a psychology degree but without work experience could not get any further. He has been gaining experience at Elstree and Borehamwood station. He said: “The Prince’s Trust gave me the opportunities I needed.”
The Get Into Railways programme gave all 11 18-25 year olds a free four-week, two-day programme which was split into learning and a two-week work placement at a station. By learning about customer service at stations, Thameslink gives delegates the confidence and skills to make them ready for either work, further education or an apprenticeship.
Bedford station manager Sam Bowler said: “I like seeing the progression. I’m like a proud mum. I know what this does for these guys.”
Thameslink has run programmes for three years which have given 84 candidates their first taste of life on the railway, 53 of them staying on to pursue a career with Thameslink.
Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), which owns Thameslink, is extending the programme to other parts of its network with courses starting in the New Year in Stevenage on the Great Northern route, and Croydon on Southern.
GTR is also training 20 of its staff to act as progression mentors for the new recruits.