My name is Kyle Martin and I am currently a second-year apprentice with Northern Rail based at Allerton in Liverpool.
When looking at the path that I have taken to get to this point, it has been less traditional than the frequent school leaver to apprenticeship route. After finishing school in 2011, I spent four years completing a University degree before gaining employment on a graduate scheme with a public transport organisation based within Merseyside. During my time here I worked in a number of depots based across the region and gained significant experience with managing large teams in a complex and ever-changing environment; this was especially the case throughout my time as a Depot Manager during Covid where it was important to balance operational performance with the significant health, safety and financial challenges facing the business.
Despite very much enjoying the previous six years, in 2021 I made the decision to take a short career break whilst looking for the next step and challenge in my career. Having worked closely alongside engineering colleagues previously, whilst also holding a strong interest and passion for DIY and maintenance in my personal life, I knew that I wanted to find an opportunity to move into a more practical and hands-on role. Apprenticeships were something that I had been exposed to in my previous work, and after researching this further I realised that this would be perfect for someone such as myself looking to undertake a complete career change. With experience already in public transport, I was excited when I came across the apprenticeship with Northern Rail as I felt that this would enable me to utilise my existing knowledge and skillset, whilst also gaining and developing new skills throughout the programme and working for an organisation that makes a difference in the lives of people on a daily basis.
After completing and being successful in my application to join Northern Rail, the majority of the first year of my apprenticeship was spent at Myerscough College studying a variety of topics such as general engineering principles and mathematics. Having been out of formal education since 2015, this was an excellent opportunity to revisit topics that I had not used for a number of years, as well as developing knowledge and experience carrying out practical tasks in areas such as mechanical maintenance, electrical work, and also fabrication of projects using hand tools.
Working alongside colleagues from other depots was also a good opportunity to meet and build relationships with new people. Now moving into my second year, I am based full time at the depot where my daily activities can vary from anything such as a routine service check of a train unit to ensure that it is fit for service, through to regular mechanical and electrical maintenance tasks, or even larger activities such as major component changes. As an apprentice, it is rewarding to be given the opportunity and trust to get involved and carry out activities under the guidance of trained and experienced colleagues on a daily basis and I feel this has greatly benefitted my own personal development so far. In addition to this, Northern Rail also include apprentices in a variety of training courses, such as Personal Track Safety and Working at Height training, and I look forward to expanding my skillset further as I work through the remaining time of my apprenticeship.
The next step of my apprenticeship is a trip to NTAR where I will be given the chance to participate in training modules related to train specific components and systems. Once complete, I am excited to take this knowledge and apply it to my daily activities as I work towards completing my apprenticeship and becoming fully qualified.