Philip Stone is the fifth generation of his family to successfully work on the railways but unlike previous generation Pip, as he is known at work, did his apprenticeship with Eurostar back in July 2008 on his 16th birthday – the earliest date he could begin.
Pip said: “I come from a railway background with every generation going back to my great, great, great grandfather having worked on the railways. My older brother did an apprenticeship at Eurostar and he works at the same site as me at the Temple Mills depot in Orient Way, Leyton.
“My starting salary was £14,250, which was good money in 2008, but today’s Eurostar apprentices start on around £19,000 and if they successfully complete the course that goes up every year and there’s further bonus payments available so it really is good money.
“I’m really fortunate as friends my age who went to university have got big debts hanging over them but the first time I was in debt was when my wife and I bought a house when I was 22 years old.”
Eurostar currently offers a Level Three apprenticeship in Traction and Rolling Stock and accepts around four new apprentices a year at the Leyton depot.
The first Eurostar apprentices started in 1992. Since then 98 per cent of apprentices who complete the course still work in the railway industry, with 77 per cent still working for Eurostar in 11 different roles. On average Eurostar invests around £150,000 in each apprentice over the four-year long course.
Pip said: “The apprenticeship is a good way to start your career and although you are taught in classrooms for blocks of three or four weeks you can see the practical applications of the things you are taught and when you’re back at the depot you put them to use.
“At the end of my apprenticeship in 2012 I was employed as a Maintenance Engineer, being promoted the following year to be a Team Technician. Two years later I was promoted again to be a Technical Trainer, teaching staff about the new trains we had introduced and making sure they were up-to-date on procedures and then last year I was appointed Training Strategy and Development Manager.
“Even now Eurostar continue supporting your learning and development. I have just completed my Masters degree and am waiting for the result on my dissertation and have had support all the way from the company.
“I’ve never regretted my decision to do an apprenticeship and will encourage my own children to look at that option too.
“Back in 2008 saying you were doing an apprenticeship was not understood by people but that has all changed today and young people can resist the pressure to do a degree and make a choice to do something they want to do, which they will enjoy and which will help them earn money as well as get a qualification.”