Press release

Government and industry creating pipeline of growth for UK tunnelling and underground construction

Government is joining forces with industry to invest in the tunnelling and underground construction skills that will allow the sector to grow.

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


Skills Minister Nick Boles today (22 January 2015) announced £1.1 million of government funding to match £1.7 million of industry investment to help create a legacy of engineering jobs and skills from major projects including the Crossrail development.

The project brings together industry leaders, including Crossrail-linked employers, working on major tunnelling and underground construction projects. It follows a successful bid from the group for funding through the government’s Employer Ownership Pilot.

Skills Minister Nick Boles said:

Our investment in major infrastructure projects has established the UK as a world-leader in tunnelling and underground construction.

Crossrail alone is supporting in the region of 55,000 jobs and with other major projects planned we want to go even further, to create a jobs legacy for future generations and give the industry the skills it needs to dig deeper and further.

The plans will focus on creating new routes into tunnelling jobs, as well as building the skills of current employees to provide the skilled workforce needed for major new projects like Crossrail 2 and High Speed 2. This includes:

  • creating and funding 75 new apprenticeships to provide new long-term careers
  • creating and delivering 20 specialist marine apprenticeships
  • creating a range of accredited courses to up-skill the tunnelling workforce, working with small sub-contractors and employees at all levels to train a total of 4,813 workers

This project will create a new industry partnership involving tunnelling and underground construction employers, to generate lasting benefits for current and future engineers. Part of the partnership’s work will see the creation of a new Industry Advisory Panel (IAP), representing all Crossrail-linked employers and future large tunnelling employers, working together to identify ways to grow the industry.

Terry Morgan, Crossrail Chairman said:

The volume of tunnelling and underground construction work taking place in the UK over the next decade is unprecedented. Crossrail, in partnership with its principal contractors, has delivered the most significant injection of new skills in a generation. It is essential that we continue to grow the industry’s talent base to ensure Britain remains at the forefront of major infrastructure delivery.

More than £460 billion of public and private investment will be made into the UK’s economic infrastructure by 2020.

Notes to Editors

  1. The Employer Ownership Pilot (EOP) is a £340 million competitive fund that invited employers, over 2 rounds, to tell government how they would better use public investment, alongside their own, to invest in the skills of their current and future workforce in order to grow our economy.
  2. The project applies to England and is jointly funded by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and the Department for Education (DfE), and administered by the Skills Funding Agency (SFA). The project was developed in conjunction with the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES).
  3. The government is providing £1.1 million for this project. This is matched by £1.7 million from Crossrail-linked and other tunnelling and construction companies from their own resources.
  4. The volume of tunnelling and underground construction work taking place in England over the next decade is unprecedented with the Thames Tideway Tunnel, National Grid and EDF electricity cable tunnels all requiring significant numbers of skilled people. Longer term, tunnelling skills will be required for Crossrail 2 and High Speed 2.
  5. Crossrail is Europe’s largest construction project – work started in May 2009 and there are currently over 10,000 people working across over 40 construction sites to deliver a new railway for London and the South East. The Crossrail route will run from Reading and Heathrow through new twin-bored 21km tunnels under central London and Docklands to Shenfield and Abbey Wood.
  6. 400 apprenticeships have been created on the Crossrail project to date as a part of the government and Mayor of London’s commitment to increasing apprenticeship opportunities.
  7. The £13 million Tunnelling and Underground Construction Academy (TUCA) in Ilford, East London, is a purpose-built training facility that supports the key skills required to work in tunnel excavation, underground construction and infrastructure. Opened in 2011, there have been over 8,000 enrolments to date. TUCA was supported by £5 million direct funding from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills via the Skills Funding Agency and is the only soft-ground tunnelling training facility in Europe.
Published 22 January 2015