If you're interested in keeping the country and the economy moving but want to avoid student debt, then consider a transport apprenticeship. Available in road, rail, aviation and logistics functions, find out more about available opportunities

A huge number of leading transport employers run apprenticeship programmes. While skills in civil engineering, traffic management and digital technology are particularly sought after, the sector also covers rail, automotive, aviation and logistics apprenticeships, so there's plenty of choice for those starting out.

According to Apprenticeships GOV.UK, opportunities exist across:

  • haulage
  • rail infrastructure operator
  • passenger transport operations
  • passenger transport driver
  • cabin crew
  • supply chain practitioner. 

These apprenticeships range from Intermediate Level 2 (equivalent to GCSEs) all the way up to degree Levels 6 and 7 (Bachelors or Masters standard). Read more about the different levels at what is an apprenticeship? and take a look at degree apprenticeships in more detail.

Road and railway apprenticeships

For those interested in road or rail careers there are a number of apprenticeship options with well-known employers.

For example, Transport for London (TfL) have four apprenticeship strands:

  • business
  • engineering
  • London Underground and rail
  • technology.

Their business apprenticeships span Levels 3 to 6 and are available in transport planning, data technician, finance, supply chain, project management, human resources, quantity surveying, general management and commercial real estate.

The general management apprenticeship takes four years to complete, during which time you'll gain experience across a range of projects, from the Underground and surface transport (such as buses) to pedestrian and river boat services. You'll earn a salary of £23,363.

Over the course of six years those on the building surveying degree apprenticeship will assist in a variety of construction projects, from essential routine maintenance to major station redevelopments.

Other TfL apprenticeship schemes include:

  • signalling and control (Level 2)
  • infrastructure operations (Level 2)
  • non-destructive testing (Level 3)
  • signalling design (Level 3)
  • IT solutions technician (Level 3)
  • data technician (Level 3)
  • vehicles engineering (Level 4)
  • software development (Level 4)
  • civil engineering (degree).

Highways England trains apprentices in several areas across its business. You could work in civil engineering, business administration, customer service or project management. Degree level schemes are available, and Level 3 and 4 pathways have also recently opened up.

Transport consultancies also often take on apprentices, so bear in mind the likes of Atkins and Arup in your job search.

Railway apprentices could find themselves working for companies such as Network Rail, First Group, Northern Rail and Colas Rail as a train driver, in engineering or the management and planning side of operations.

It'll take three years to complete Network Rail's IT and Business Services Degree Apprenticeship (Level 6). Based in Milton Keynes, you'll assist with day-to-day responsibilities as well as take on longer-term projects as you gain experience in a range of activities. You'll earn a starting salary of £17,000. Other degree level Network Rail apprenticeships include:

  • construction quantity surveyor
  • project controls professional
  • project manager
  • rail and rail systems engineering.

First Group, which covers Great Western Railway (GWR), South Western Railway (SWR) and TransPennine Express (TPE) and First Bus offers a number of apprenticeships. Depending on the operator you choose to work for, there are programmes in areas such as:

  • business
  • business administration
  • bus technician
  • engineering
  • HR
  • leadership.

Colas Rail offers a range of Level 3 apprenticeships in functions such as rail engineering technician - track, rail engineering technician - overhead lines, rail engineering design technician, rail engineering technician signalling and train driver.

You can also explore other road and rail careers.

Automotive apprenticeships

Most of the UK's leading car companies run apprenticeship schemes:

  • Aston Martin Lagonda apprenticeships - intermediate (Level 2), Advanced (Level 3, A-level standard) and Higher (Level 6, degree) awards are on offer in areas including manufacturing, paint, commercial, engineering, IT and design.
  • BMW apprenticeships - the three-year Motor Vehicle Technician scheme at Advanced Level 3 sees apprentices employed at a BMW retailer while attending the group academy in Berkshire. The technician role is focused on electronics and cutting-edge technology. Other programmes are available in aftersales customer service, body shop, motorcycles, genius training and BMW sales.
  • Jaguar Land Rover apprenticeships - an Advanced (Level 3) technical apprenticeship with the car manufacturer involves spending four years learning the engineering or manufacturing basics, as you earn a wage of £13,000. The organisation also offers three Level 6 programmes in digital and technology solutions, applied professional engineering and supply chain and logistics. The latter takes four years to complete and comes with a salary of £24,480. A Level 7 finance apprenticeship is also available.
  • Mercedes-Benz UK apprenticeships - on the three-year scheme, you'll have the opportunity to train as a light vehicle technician, parts operations specialist or heavy vehicle technician, while attending the company's apprentice academy in Milton Keynes.
  • Nissan apprenticeships - apprenticeships focus on two main areas - technical and business and production. Technical and business programmes include maintenance technician, production quality support apprentice and engineering, while production schemes cover special skills, manufacturing and logistics. Schemes take between two and five years to complete.
  • Volvo apprenticeships - offer two schemes, the heavy vehicle advanced apprenticeship programme and the aftersales advanced apprenticeship programme.

In addition to car apprenticeships with manufacturers, car dealers also run programmes across their dealership network or in their head office. You'll also find opportunities with organisations operating heavy goods vehicles (for example, driver apprenticeships at ALDI), taxis and buses.

Aviation apprenticeships

Aside from airline graduate schemes, many of the leading operatives within the aviation industry also have dedicated apprenticeship programmes.

For instance, British Airways (BA) recruits apprentices in three business areas:

  • customer
  • business
  • operations.

Business apprenticeships include business professional, data scientist and aspiring leader schemes. The latter takes four years to complete and involves you taking on several rotational placements giving you insight in colleague and customer experience, commercial, operations and strategy roles. You'll study towards a Level 6 Chartered Management qualification and earn £23,700 a year.

Operations programmes include aircraft maintenance, Heathrow operations, IAG cargo and  aircraft workshop. Customer apprenticeships cover global engagement centre and customer service.

Taking two years to complete the Level 3 engineering technician apprenticeship at Virgin Atlantic trains apprentices to maintain aircraft such as Airbus A350s and Boeing 787s.  

Boeing also runs a range of aircraft apprenticeships including aircraft maintenance, aircraft fabrication and flight services.

Aerospace leader Airbus also takes on apprentices. Degree apprenticeships are available in a range of functions including business, digital, engineering, information management, procurement and supply chain leadership.

Apprentices who complete a one to three-year training programme with the Royal Air Force (RAF) are guaranteed a job in their chosen field. Aircraft technician, weapon technician, air and space operations specialist and supplier are among the many roles you can select from. You'll earn a salary of £17,835 plus benefits by the end of your first year.

Logistics apprenticeships

With customer expectations and automation technology transforming the logistics industry, this is another area where skilled recruits are needed.

Major firms such as DHL look for supply chain apprentices. The logistics company offer a range of apprenticeships from supply chain and data analysis to management. Their UK supply chain leadership professional degree apprenticeship takes four years to complete and will earn you a salary of £18,000 per year. Other DHL apprenticeships include:

  • commercial procurement
  • data
  • engineering
  • electromechanical engineering (degree)
  • finance
  • inventory
  • paint/body technician
  • vehicle technician.

Amazon runs a Level 2, 15-month supply chain scheme. You'll be responsible for managing the movement of goods for a variety of customers. The scheme teaches you how to identify and eliminate waste, create flow and improve quality leading to greater efficiency and increased profitability.

Supermarkets such as ALDI and Co-op also run logistics and supply chain programmes. ALDI's Level 2 logistics scheme pays £208 per week. Learn more about apprenticeships with these types of companies at retail apprenticeships.

The armed forces also offer logistics apprenticeships; so visit the Army, Royal Air Force and Royal Navy websites to search for opportunities.

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