The events are the first to be organised under the new Rail Employment and Skills Academy – an initiative by Derby College and the Rail Forum East Midlands, which represents more than 150 rail-related businesses across the region.
On January 26 existing and prospective Engineering students will gain an insight into the rail industry from infrastructure and technology to train operations and manufacturing from companies such as ISS Labour, Resonate, East Midlands Trains, the National College of High Speed Rail, Elite KL, and SNC Lavalin.
Current and prospective students will then be invited to apply for the Rail Employment and Skills Academy either this year or as part of their application process to start in September 2017. Under the Academy, students will join a pre-apprenticeship programme with work experience at three different companies, the opportunity to take part in rail-focused projects and to have a mentor from the industry to support them in planning their future careers.
Derby College Head of Engineering Robin Webber-Jones explained: "The Rail Employment and Skills Academy's pre-apprenticeship programme is the first step in nurturing individuals to consider a career in the rail industry.
"Under the programme, they will gain a real insight into the sector and be able to make informed decisions about their future education and training.
"It will also enable regional businesses in the rail sector to see a range of potential candidates who they can consider for apprenticeships in the future.
"We are concentrating on the Engineering curriculum area in the first instance but plan to roll this out across the College in the future to areas such as Construction, Business and Finance to reflect the wider career opportunities in the rail industry."
April Hayhurst is Derby College's Deputy Principal Employer and Economic Affairs. She continued: "Derby College has a long association with the rail industry and we are delighted to be embedding this relationship further with the industry specific Employment and Skills Academy.
"Bringing together rail employers and Derby College will enable us to develop the skilled workforce that companies require to grow their business and ensure young people recognise the opportunities available to them in this industry.
"By working in collaboration we will create a pipeline of future talent – supporting our further and higher education learners into a wide range of exciting careers in this thriving and forward-thinking industry." The Rail Employment and Skills Academy Advisory Board is chaired by Rail Forum member and CEO of ISS Labour, Simon Higgens. He is supported by vice chair Sheena Hendrie from Resonate and then senior executives drawn from local rail businesses including East Midlands Trains, Angel Trains, Porterbrook Leasing, SNC Lavalin, LORAM UK, ESG Rail, Carillion, Atkins, Datum Composites, EliteKL, CoMech, Yellow Rail and Collis Engineering.
Elaine Clark, Rail Forum East Midlands manager said: "The East Midlands is a world leader in rail skills and we need to ensure that we can build on this success. Our skills action plan aims to deliver on the work of the Rail Supply Group and will ensure that Britain's rail supply industry is truly open for business and capable of winning orders from across the world.
"The rail industry in and around Derby employs some 25,000 people and contributes over £2.5bn to the regional economy. The new Rail Academy will help develop a diverse and highly skilled workforce - enabling businesses across the East Midlands to win new rail orders both at home and abroad."
Rail Minister Paul Maynard attended the Rail Forum East Midlands annual conference in Derby in September and officially announced the launch of the Academy.
He said at the launch: "The UK rail industry has all the ingredients to be a world leader and our investment in the Midlands Engine puts this region right at the heart of that potential growth and prosperity.
"We are creating thousands of high quality careers, with the aim of generating 30,000 apprenticeships across the country in the rail and road sector by 2020.
"This new venture from Derby College and the Rail Forum East Midlands is an excellent example of how industry and the community can work together to boost prospects for local people."