US national passenger operator Amtrak has launched a new apprenticeship pilot programme, aimed at both new staff and existing employees. 

Funded by the federal Infrastructure and Jobs Act, the programme comprises core courses including safety, environmental awareness and personal protective equipment (PPE). 

Apprentices are then paired with mentors and undertake combined classroom and hands-on instruction. This is followed by training in their specific trade. 

After three years of training, students take a final examination to become fully-fledged mechanics. 

Amtrak says that the apprenticeship programme will create a talent pipeline for existing and new employees, providing a career track for personal and professional advancement. 

Over 1500 new employees have already joined Amtrak this year, says the company. 

“With a focus on safety and Amtrak values, the apprenticeship programme offers an opportunity for employees to develop new skills and expand their career,” says Ms Qiana Spain, executive vice-president and chief human resources officer at Amtrak. “As we aim to produce top-quality training that attracts new and existing employees.” 

“Apprenticeship and effective training programmes, just like this one, are proven ways to grow workforces, attract and retain the right talent, and help working people expand their skillsets,” says Mr John Feltz, director of the rail division at the Transport Workers Union.  

“We are working with Congress to ensure Amtrak and the Federal Railroad Administration have the necessary funding to develop more training like this that provides well-paid, meaningful jobs for generations to come,” he adds. We are proud to support Amtrak in this endeavour.”