One of my intentions with this site has always been to try to respond to requests from my readers.
A question that I've received many times in the few months since the site was first posted is 'How do I get to become a driver?'.
As this seems to be a recurring question I thought I'd give the topic a short page all to itself, so here goes!
At the present time all London Underground's recruitment of Train Operators is being done internally - that it the vacancies are only being advertised to existing staff. I understand that there is no short term likelihood of this changing in the foreseeable future.
So - you want to be a driver but don't already work for London Underground - how do you get in? My view is that the most appropriate route is to join London Underground as a Station Assistant. This will give you a good grounding into the organisation, the culture and the working practices and will stand you in good stead when the time comes that you do apply and, hopefully, be accepted for training as a Train Operator.
A couple of years ago London Underground did run an external recruitment campaign which received a huge response. The recruitment process (irrespective of whether you are an 'outsider' or an internal candidate) is stringent and the failure rate at the testing stage is very high - I believe that it's something over 90% fail at this stage.
I also know that a fair proportion of the directly recruited drivers did struggle with the culture, working patterns and working practices - they are quite unique after all - and left within the first twelve months. Obviously the training of a driver costs a great deal of money and I'm pretty sure that this is a major reason behind the current thinking of internal recruitment wherever possible - internal applicants go into it with their eyes much wider open and the number who leave because they can't adapt is much lower.
As I've received a few enquiries in the last few weeks about the possibility of London Underground restarting the direct recruitment of external candidates for Train Operators positions, I thought I would confirm my understanding of the current position on this.
At the present time all vacancies for Train Operators are being filled internally, and there appears to be no shortage of internal applicants. Those who are unsuccessful on initial application are later recalled and retested on the area or areas on which they initially failed, or re-interviewed if it was at this stage that they failed the process.
This is still producing a steady flow of trainees.
I have heard nothing to suggest that there is any likelihood of the external recruitment process being revived in either the short or medium term. I think the official line is 'never say never' but if being a Train Operator is your aim I would recommend the 'stations' route as described above.
So how do you get to be a Station Assistant? London Underground's web site thetube.com has its own Jobs section. At the present time you can go directly to the appropriate page by clicking here.
Remember too that if you do join, Train Operator is only one of many roles within the organisation that you can then apply for. It may well be that once you're 'in' you may see other jobs in action that appeal to you.
I hope that brief run down is of help, but please do e-mail me via the Contact Me page if you'd like to know more. And if you do apply good luck!
A new site has come to my attention which is being compiled by a member of London Underground's station staff and this goes into quite some detail of the recruitment and training processes for Station Assistants or, as they've recently been re-titled, Customer Service Assistants. However, from the enquiries that I've made the job itself is essentially unchanged.
The site can be reached here.
Certainly the process described has brought back many memories to me; the training seems to have changed very little (but why change a process that was working anyway?) though it's been a little 'fine tuned' to allow for changes that have occurred.
Modern Apprenticeship Scheme
Another avenue that has opened up in the last couple of years aimed at school leavers is the 'Modern Apprenticeship Scheme'.
I know that the scheme has proved to very popular and the deadlines for applications are tight, but if you fulfil the criteria why not have a go?
Again, there's currently (as at 9th March 2005) an advert on Transport for London's web site and can be linked to here. There is quite a bit of detail included, so go and have a browse!
This year's scheme has some changes to that run in the past, and has been renamed 'The London Underground Apprenticeship Scheme 2005' but it will offer a good training on many areas of London Underground and the possibility of a variety of career paths.
One of the current apprentices has kindly offered to answer any questions that may arise if you are interested in hearing more about the scheme from personal experience. He can be contacted here.