Press release

First new college in 20 years to support development of High Speed 2 (HS2)

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Plans for a new college to train the next generation of world-class engineers to work on the construction of High Speed 2 (HS2) unveiled.

Plans for a new college to train the next generation of world-class engineers to work on the construction of High Speed 2 (HS2) have been unveiled today (14 January 2014).

The college, will deliver the specialised training and qualifications needed for high speed rail, which will benefit HS2 and other future infrastructure projects across the country. It will offer the necessary technical training to make HS2 a success and ensure it can be built by skilled British workers including; rail engineering, environmental skills and construction. It will be the first new incorporated Further Education College in over 20 years.

Secretary of State for Business Vince Cable said:

HS2 is the biggest infrastructure project that this government is delivering. So it is right that a large scale investment in bricks and mortar should also come with investment in the elite skills which will help build it. That’s why this government is launching the first further education college in over 20 years, which will train the next generation of engineers in rail, construction and environmental studies that this country needs to prosper.

Secretary of State for Transport Patrick McLoughlin said:

Creating jobs by delivering better infrastructure is a key part of the government’s long term economic plan. HS2 will not only help businesses expand, creating employment; it will also give young people opportunities to get new skills, get a job and a career, become more secure and get on in life. When open, it is predicted that HS2 will underpin the delivery of 400,000 jobs.

The new college will provide training in how to make the most of cutting edge technology and use state-of-the-art equipment to deliver programmes designed specifically for the HS2 project. It will also build relationships with a network of affiliated facilities, including existing colleges, private training providers, HE institutions and major supply networks off route. Learners from across the country will have opportunities to become involved and work along the line.

The announcement was made during a visit to the Old Oak Common railway depot by Skills and Enterprise Minister Matthew Hancock.

Skills and Enterprise Minister Matthew Hancock said:

HS2 will be a world class project using cutting edge technology. It is vital we act now to ensure we have enough skilled people to build HS2 and make sure as many jobs as possible are local. This new elite institution with a specific focus on rail construction and maintenance will give learners new skills which respond not only to the needs of HS2, but also to the future of rail engineering so is vital for Britain’s future.

He was met by Transport Minister Robert Goodwill and Sir David Higgins, the Chairman of HS2 Ltd.

HS2 Chairman David Higgins said:

This country produces some of the best engineers to be found anywhere in the world. The problem is that there aren’t enough of them, and there isn’t a long enough guaranteed work-stream to keep them here. So they tend to go overseas.

HS2 provides us with a unique chance to address both issues. The sheer length of the project means we can offer people a rewarding career in engineering staying in this country, whilst the multiplicity of skills required means we will be equipping a new generation with experience at the cutting edge of technology.

So HS2 gives us the chance not just to re-balance the economic geography of the country, but also our national skills base. It is an opportunity we should seize.

This forms part of the government’s work with HS2 Ltd to ensure the new north-south railway delivers a tangible skills legacy that will serve the UK for the next century and continue the proud tradition the UK has for worldwide demand for its engineering expertise. It is expected that HS2 will create up to 2,000 apprentices during the lifetime of construction.

It accompanies the work of the Growth Taskforce, which is an independent group of experts spanning public and private sectors and academia. They will advise government on actions to maximise the benefits of HS2 to regions across the UK. It is expected that the college will be open by 2017, when construction of HS2 will begin.

Commercial Secretary to the Treasury, Infrastructure Minister and Chair of the HS2 Growth Taskforce, Lord Deighton, said:

We must think big to get the most from major infrastructure projects like HS2, and as Chair of the HS2 Growth Taskforce, this is exactly what I want to see happening across the UK. The Taskforce will put forward recommendations in spring on how government can further support local areas and businesses to seize the opportunities for regeneration, jobs and growth that HS2 offers.

Notes for editors

The government’s economic policy objective is to achieve ‘strong, sustainable and balanced growth that is more evenly shared across the country and between industries’. It set 4 ambitions in the ‘Plan for Growth’, published at Budget 2011:

  • to create the most competitive tax system in the G20
  • to make the UK the best place in Europe to start, finance and grow a business
  • to encourage investment and exports as a route to a more balanced economy
  • to create a more educated workforce that is the most flexible in Europe

Work is underway across government to achieve these ambitions, including progress on more than 250 measures as part of the Growth Review. Developing an Industrial Strategy gives new impetus to this work by providing businesses, investors and the public with more clarity about the long-term direction in which the government wants the economy to travel.

Find out what else the government is doing to support and grow the UK economy

HS2 and major projects media enquiries