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Rail Forum East Midlands

We developed the iRail programme to engage students aged 13 to 18 to showcase the many career opportunities available in the rail industry.


In 2016, the Department for Transport’s ‘Transport Infrastructure Skills Strategy’ highlighted these statistics:

  • Fewer than one fifth of employees in the rail industry are under 30, with nearly half over 45

  • Only 2.5% of all employed 16–24-year-olds in the UK work within the transport industry

  • Women represent just 20% of the rail industry as a whole, and only 4.4% of rail engineering

Despite a lot of investment in the rail industry in the last decade through exciting new projects such as Crossrail and High Speed 2, the government has forecast a skills shortage of 55,000 workers by 2020. How can we present the rail industry in a fun and engaging way so that it would appeal to young people as a future career option?


The iRail programme was born to engage students aged 13 to 18 to showcase the many career opportunities available in the rail industry. A series of in-school workshops run across the East Midlands region throughout the academic year and finish with a finale event where a rail challenge is judged by leading experts from the regions rail industry.


We’re proud to be supporting the regions bid for Derby to become the Headquarters of Great British Railways: and as part of the Bid iRail and Learn by Design’s Destination Rail programmes are instrumental as being a driver of school - employer engagement and raising career aspirations in the rail industry.

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Working with Learn by Design was an obvious and great decision. Our objective was to raise the profile of the rail industry showcasing the broad range of opportunities at all levels available to young people. We wanted to bring both an educational and fun element to our schools’ engagement and Learn by Design have been able to do that through an integrated approach blending there in school workshops and the iRail STEM Challenge Day. Critically for us Learn by Design has provided the link between the industry and schools co-ordinating a programme of activity spread over the school year; they have brought an in-depth knowledge of education and the curriculum working alongside our industry experts to deliver inspiring and informative events.

Elaine Clark, Chief Executive Officer, Rail Forum Midlands

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