Congratulations James for achieving a distinction!

We want to congratulate James for achieving a distinction in his Level 4 High Speed Rail and Infrastructure Advanced Technician apprenticeship.

We recently spoke to James who is 22, based in York, and an employee for Atkins. We asked him about his journey while studying at the college, including how he managed to navigate the balance of studying and working while persevering through a global pandemic.

Could you describe your journey to becoming an apprentice at NCATI?

“When I was 16, I remember seeing an advertisement about the college. This showed me how they upskill, educate and train learners for a future in rail. It always stuck with me. Then the announcement of HS2 opened my mind up to the new opportunities that were in the rail industry. So, when it was time to look for an apprenticeship in rail engineering and I came across my employer Atkins Limited, I was ecstatic when I found out that I would be studying at NCATI.”

Tell us about your apprenticeship experience

“I enjoyed every step of the journey! The combination of working at my job and studying at the college made it a fun experience for me. My peers became friends I could relate to, ask questions about the course, and find out about their experiences at work. This was informative and beneficial for us all because we learnt to lean on each other for support.

Additionally, the teachers and the staff at the college are amazing: they are always approachable and willing to help with anything that their students need. One of my lecturers, Nick Rodney, really embodied this well. He was innovative with his teaching style, making the classes informative and interactive at the same time. You could tell our lecturers cared about pulling the best out of us, making sure we had all we needed, and the college had amazing facilities to learn in.”

How did your studies impact your work at Atkins?

“I saw improvements at my workplace, as I was able to use the skills I was learning on the projects that I was a part of. For example, on the Southern level crossing programme I was able to understand the project from a holistic point of view because of my new understanding and as a result, was able to offer better ideas.”

What did you find to be the most challenging part of your apprenticeship and how
did you overcome it?

“For me, it was in the initial stages of getting used to balancing work, college, and my social life. It felt overwhelming, but with the support of my teachers and peers, I was able to get the balance right. Then when the pandemic hit, it was about managing the changes and adapting to studying online. I felt that the college kept us engaged, helping us transition and stay on top of the work we needed to get done.”

What are you doing now?

“I’m working at Atkins Limited as a Higher Apprentice Signalling Design Assistant, and I’ve recently managed to get my Signalling Design Assistant Licence which is awarded by the IRSE. This proves my growing skill and competency in the field. Though I’m happy with my achievements, I plan to go for the Signalling Design Licence that will give me more autonomy on projects moving forward.

What are your ambitions for the future?

“I’m really excited about what the future holds: my dream is to be a chartered engineer, travel around the world and work on multiple projects, getting a Principal Design Licence so that I can head up projects and lead teams.”


We’re so proud of James and all that he has managed to achieve thus far, and know that there is so much more to come from his career in rail engineering.