Last year, Southern partnered with East Sussex College for its first ever Sector-based Work Academy Programme and the two organisations are working together once more to enable those on the placements the opportunity to work towards a Level 2 qualification in Travel and Tourism.
This qualification will help the individuals gain a wider perspective on the travel sector along with increasing their options and prospects for future job opportunities.
“We want to help our local economies thrive and with the leisure sector opening up for summer, these placements will be vital in boosting tourism in and around Sussex. Government schemes such as Kickstart have helped us to reach talent across our communities and support those who may have otherwise struggled to gain skills and experience in the current economic climate.”
Minister for Employment Mims Davies MP said: “Southern Rail has used a mixture of our Plan for Jobs schemes to bring in new talent, and it’s great to see more young people begin their Kickstart journey – helping them get on track and develop the new skills and confidence to thrive in work.
“In Sussex and right across the country, our Plan for Jobs is creating opportunity and supporting people of all ages into work and training as we push to build back better– including in the rail sector.”
Whilst the current placements are based in Sussex, Southern’s parent company, Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), has also used the Kickstart Scheme to support with rail projects elsewhere on the network. In April this year, more young people were taken on by the company in customer service roles to support in delivering the huge £1.2billion East Coast Upgrade. These individuals are now owning their own projects and continuing to get under the skin of the rail industry.
Ralph Lallau, 24, was sadly one of many who lost their job in hospitality due to Covid-19. Working in
rail had never crossed his mind but thanks to the Kickstart Scheme, he found full-time employment
earlier this year.
He’s sharing his story to celebrate National Mentoring Day:
“I’m originally from France but dropped everything to move to London two years ago to work in
hospitality. I was unemployed for most of the pandemic and relied on Universal Credit. During a
meeting with my work coach, she told me about the government’s Kickstart initiative and
specifically, the role with Thameslink/Great Northern.
“It looked perfect for my skillset and after I had my first interview, I started to get really excited
about the opportunity. Even though I had no prior rail experience, everyone has been so supportive.
I’ve had some fantastic mentors who have helped me get to grips with the railway, whilst also giving
me the freedom to learn and develop my own style.
“In my induction, the priority was on getting to know people and making sure we felt valued in the
company, before focussing on training. I thought this was a brilliant management style and it really
helped us to embed in the business. I’ve had various mentors throughout this process and they’ve all
been great at given me the resources I need to do the job, as well as the space to get the job done.
“I’ve now taken on a role as Digital Project Manager, helping to upgrade some of our tech across the
whole business, which – with over 7,500 employees – is no mean feat! Once again, I’m being
thoroughly supported by my team and managers and I’m loving the extra responsibility.
“I don’t know what I expected when I first entered the railway, but the company culture has
surprised me in a positive way. There’s so many internal support networks and groups and a real
sense of belonging. I’ve felt part of the family since day one and I can’t wait to see what the next