Apprenticeships with BESTT
The Boiler and Engineering Skills Training Trust offers a BESTT Apprenticeship in the mechanical overhaul of steam engines. A BESTT Apprenticeship will provide you with the skills required to carry out the mechanical overhaul of steam engines. These could be in steam railway locomotives, but also in boats, ships, stationary engines or road locomotives.
BESTT is a partnership of steam heritage organisations which represent railways, ships and traction engines. Partner organisations include the Heritage Railway Association, the National Traction Engine Trust, and the Maritime Heritage Trust. The Trust provides a range of training programmes to address the shortage of skilled craftspeople who can repair and maintain heritage steam boilers and carry out mechanical overhaul of steam engines.
Until the 1960s, huge numbers of steam boilers were in use on railway locomotives, ships, traction engines and similar. However, tourism and heritage leisure attractions are the only places where locomotive type boiler still operate today. Therefore, steam boilers are crucial to the continued operation of hundreds of heritage visitor attractions all across the country. In fact, there are over 200 heritage centres in the UK. There are also around 6,000 working or restorable boilers on railway locomotives, traction engines, road vehicles, ships and stationary engines.
Steam heritage is one of Britain’s glories. Working steam locomotive boilers are a key part of the very successful and very important heritage tourism industry. However, the few remaining boilershops are finding it increasingly difficult to keep up with the needs of operating heritage attractions. Furthermore, as the steam boilers themselves get older, keeping them in good repair requires an increasing level of skill. Operating at pressures sometimes exceeding 250psi (18 Bar) and above and at very high temperatures, locomotive boilers are safety critical components which require specialist skills and equipment.
There are currently only around 50 skilled boilersmiths still working in the UK. However, many skilled specialists are now retiring and there is an increasing shortage of young people entering the industry and gaining appropriate experience. BESTT aims to fill this gap with new National Lottery funded 12 month traineeships on steam engine mechanical overhaul.
A BESTT Apprenticeship offers paid work training placements in 2018 with entry in April/May and September and again in 2019, i.e. two rounds of 8 each year. BESTT training placements are at heritage engineering workshops around the country. It may be working on boats, ships, stationary engines or road locomotives – not just railways.
You will learn how to repair the moving parts of a locomotive: wheels, cranks, pistons, steam pipework, brakes, lubrication. You don’t need to have previous engineering or heritage experience. However, you must have an interest in working with your hands and have a real interest in how things work.
Picture credit: Boiler and Engineering Skills Training Trust.
Roles Available with BESTT
Completing a BESTT Apprenticeship will provide you with the skills required to be able to carry out the mechanical overhaul of steam engines.
DISCLAIMER: The term “Apprenticeship” describes a training programme in which someone earns a qualification while also employed full-time by a specific company. In contrast, the BESTT Traineeship offers paid work placements with companies, but the candidate is paid a basic wage by BESTT. However, with over 200 heritage centres around the UK relying on steam boilers, there are good job prospects upon completion of the traineeship.
Education Requirements for BESTT
The BESTT Apprenticeship programme is open to anyone over 18. The organisation particularly encourages applications from under-represented groups, including those from economically disadvantaged areas, women and black and ethnic minorities.
While no formal qualifications are specifically required, BESTT Apprenticeship candidates must have basic English and Maths skills which are sufficient to write up the work you do and complete the necessary calculations.
When can I apply for an apprenticeship at BESTT?
The BESTT Apprenticeship scheme is open for applications all year round. Start dates are in either April/May or September, in both 2018 and 2019.
Candidates interested in a BESTT Apprenticeship should visit the website for further details on how to apply.