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Public Sector & Defence careers

Transport

Who handles transport in the UK?

The government’s dedication to transport policy and services is incredibly important to helping the public keep moving. The Department for Transport (DfT) is the central government department responsible for policy relating to transport funding, investment, infrastructure, legislation and regulation.

With growing environmental concerns and an increased desire for public transport and cycle schemes, the DfT is right at the heart of the government’s major priorities. A graduate job here will put you in an absolutely vital position!

What does the Department for Transport do?

According to their website, the primary objective of DfT is “transport that works for everyone. This means a transport system which balances the needs of the economy, the environment and society.” This government department is dedicated to making sure that the UK’s transport systems are economically viable, accessible, environmentally friendly and contribute to the health, safety and security of the British public.

The DfT is not only responsible for transport policy within the UK, but also works alongside other international organisations to address international transport issues. Whilst DfT is the overall authority on all things related to transport in the UK, it is supported by various other government agencies, including the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA), Driving Standards Agency (DSA), Highways Agency (HA), and the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA).

Transport for London (TFL) is another major government organisation that employs a wealth of people in careers that contribute to providing safe, efficient and environmentally friendly transport services to people across London.

What jobs are available in the Department for Transport?

The DfT’s employees are responsible for devising policy for road, rail, air and sea transport. They also facilitate the delivery of those services by conducting extensive research and analysis, managing the administration of finances, resolving legal matters, providing I.T. solutions and developing communication strategies.

For every role in the department, candidates need excellent communication and negotiation skills, the ability to work as part of a team, and a keen interest in improving transport. DfT also takes on bright and enthusiastic graduates through the Civil Service Fast Stream programme.

However, not all employees need a degree to work in the department. Indeed, a range of administrative officer and executive officer positions are available to school leavers. These guys also offer summer vacation placements through formal schemes run by the Cabinet Office, such as the Fast Stream Summer Diversity Internship Programme.

The DVLA is one of the DfT’s executive agencies and employs people in a wide range of careers to help them coordinate the distribution of tax discs to motorists and maintain detailed records of drivers and vehicle registrations, which help with law enforcement and the promotion of road safety. The DVLA currently employs over 7,000 staff in a variety of administrative, I.T. and corporate service positions.

The DSA is the executive agency affiliated with DfT that contributes to road safety and driving standards by conducting driving tests, distributing the relevant licenses to motorists and regulating the work of driving instructors.

These guys employ administrative and I.T. staff, from a junior level all the way up to senior manager level. Most importantly they also employ ‘operational staff’, i.e. the large team of driving examiners who test drivers in test centres across the country, and the senior managers who oversee the testing operations.

The Highways Agency (we would abbreviate this, but writing ‘HA’ makes it look like we’re laughing maniacally) is the organisation in charge of England’s strategic road network. They are responsible for maintaining and improving public highways through strategic and hands-on initiatives. These guys are only in charge of motorways and major A-roads, so you won’t see them filling in potholes on your local country tracks.

However, the network under their jurisdiction accounts for a third of all road traffic in England. When it comes to managing the road network, their priorities are safety and efficiency. Consequently, they employ a wide range of people in Traffic Officer roles and other non-traffic focused roles.

The Traffic Officer Service is all about easing traffic congestion on England’s motorways. Everyone hates traffic jams, but they also cost the government around £3 billion a year. Traffic Officers are the caped crusaders of England’s motorway network (if by cape you mean hi-vis jacket).

They patrol motorways, manage collisions, keep traffic moving, close roads temporarily, clear debris off roads and work with the emergency services to make sure people are kept safe. These guys are also supported by Regional Control Centre Operators, who monitor traffic activity by analysing information from various sources, such as CCTV, police reports and traffic management systems. They then deploy Traffic Officers and emergency services when incidents occur.

People in these roles might eventually be promoted into team manager, operations manager and regional operations manager positions, who oversee all the traffic control activities in specific areas.

Non-traffic careers with the Highways Agency are managed through the DfT’s recruitment service. However, the agency does run its very own Graduate Leadership Development scheme. There are two routes to take within this scheme, one for engineers and one for generalists.

The engineering route lasts three years and allows you to play an integral part in the essential civil and electrical engineering that is required to deliver major engineering projects throughout England’s road network.

The generalist route is a two-year programme designed to train future leaders of the Highways Agency from a business management perspective. Both routes involve carrying out a number of different extended placements in numerous areas of the organisation.

VOSA employs around 2,500 people that are devoted to improving standards when it comes to the road worthiness of vehicles and compliance with road legislation. These guys oversee all things relating to MOTs, HGV licenses, local bus services, technical testing and inspections.

They also help Traffic Commissioners to enforce legislation. This agency employs people in corporate service careers (e.g. HR, finance, communications, publicity and project management) that operate out of central offices, although the majority of their employees are in testing and inspection roles, out in the field.

These might include: Professional Technical Officers, who carry out technical inspections and tests on vehicles; Traffic Examiners, who investigate and prepare cases against drivers who break regulations; and Vehicle Testers who carry out annual statutory tests on vehicles, e.g. MOTs etc.

TFL employs a huge amount of people that are responsible for keeping London’s transport services safe, efficient and environmentally friendly. They employ people in all kinds of careers, from drivers, customer service staff, and engineers, to project managers, assistants, and I.T. experts.

TFL offers a huge range of apprenticeship schemes in three different areas: London Underground Engineering, London Underground Operational, and Highways Technician.

It also offers an exciting graduate scheme, which allows talented grads to develop their careers in one of four areas: Project and General Management, Technical, Engineering, and Corporate.

These schemes are designed to produce ‘future leaders’ of TFL, who might be working in transport planning, civil engineering, electrical and electronic engineering, information management, finance, human resources, business analysis, quantity surveying, and many other different types of careers.

Transport Scotland is the government agency responsible for devising and coordinating Scotland’s transport strategies and policies that concern road, rail, air, water and public transport issues.

Much like DfT, they employ a huge range of people, who are responsible for carrying out research, analysing statistics, providing recommendations for policy-making, financial administration, providing I.T. solutions and managing internal and external communications.

They also have their own graduate scheme which develops dynamic graduates into the future managers of their operations. Take a look at the Transport Scotland website for more details.

Without all the handy people working their socks off in the transport sector, the country would quite literally grind to a halt. If you want to keep the wheels moving, then this might be the right direction for you!