One of the UK’s leading rail contractors, QTS, is encouraging young kids as well as women to pursue a career within the rail work force in order to fulfil an engineering skills gap within the sector.
The family owned business that was founded in 1990, by managing director Alan McLeish, provides specialist services in rail engineering, infrastructure and training.
Over the next 10 years the UK’s rail network will need an extra 1.8 million engineers due to an extensive shortage, according to Network Rail.
Mark Craig, Design Manager and Civil Engineer, was supported by QTS through a part time university degree and has worked for the company for over 15 years.
He mentors children from Strathaven Academy by showing them how rewarding a career in engineering can be as well as providing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) engagements in schools including talks and presentations to both boys and girls as young as primary four.
He said: “One of the bigger reasons I think there is a massive shortage is because there is not enough emphasis on careers advisers sitting down with kids in school earlier than what they do.
“Pupils get to 6th year and decide they want to do aircraft engineering and they’ve not taken physics or maths.
“We need to be in primary schools speaking to the kids much earlier about what they want to do.”
In 2016, only 16.4% of the railways work force was women, however at QTS there is a mixed department across the board with lots of diversity achieved through the company ‘actively encouraging’ women.
Joanne Clayton, a Trainee Estimator, started as a member of the front of house team and has progressed through various team leader positons to where she is now, studying construction management.
There are also a range of female quantity surveyors working for the company including Laura Thomson, who first joined as a commercial assistant, but went on to complete a part time Honours degree.
Mark, who is responsible for some of the key projects the company carries out, said: “The way that we encourage and develop our young work force properly is one of my favourite things about working for QTS. I think that the encouragement we have here to get modern apprenticeships is how to progress.
“I strongly believe that a mixture of work experience coupled with academic qualifications is the way forward for not only the work force here at QTS, but for Scotland to overcome the shortage of engineers.”
The turnover within the company has grown from approximately £5M in 2009 to £72m in 2017 and last month the company was shortlisted for a prestigious UK sponsorship award for their ‘Youth Athlete’ programme that supports over 11 young athletes from a range of sporting disciplines.
Alan McLeish, Managing Director, said: “As a business, QTS has a strong inclusion ethos and is committed to working for the future of young people through a variety of channels.”