Transport Minister Stephen Hammond is visiting Crossrail’s purpose-built training facility today (11 March 2011) to meet apprentices destined to become the next generation of tunnelling experts.
The Tunnelling and Underground Construction Academy (TUCA), based in east London, is Europe’s only specialised education facility focusing entirely on this field and was established in 2011 by Crossrail Ltd to address a shortage of people with the necessary skills to work underground on the transport scheme and on other planned infrastructure projects.
The minister and Mayor of London Boris Johnson will visit the site on Monday, March 11, the beginning of National Apprenticeship Week.
Stephen Hammond said:
Apprenticeships are at the heart of our drive to keep Britain at the forefront of civil engineering by training the next generation of experts and ensuring our workforce has the skills employers need. This is why, this year alone, government is planning to invest £1.5 billion in apprenticeships. Our increased investment in this area is already bearing fruit and we have seen the number of people starting apprenticeships increasing at a record rate under this government.
This academy is a shining example of how high quality apprenticeships are being delivered and it is playing a vital role in providing the skilled workers needed to deliver Crossrail and other major transport projects in the UK and beyond.
The minister and the mayor will be shown the sprayed concrete lining equipment that Crossrail apprentices are being trained on at TUCA before they start work at construction sites throughout London.
Crossrail has worked closely with industry partners, professional bodies and other organisations that carry out tunneling and underground construction work to ensure that the facilities and curriculum at TUCA would meet current and future industry needs.
The academy will also create an important legacy beyond Crossrail by addressing the future skills needed for the unprecedented level of tunnelling and underground construction due to take place in the UK and Europe over the next decade.
Its curriculum is driven by the needs of industry and the vast building houses an unrivalled range of specialist plant and equipment.
Crossrail invested £7.5 million in the facility and a further £5 million in funding was provided by the Department of Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) via the Skills Funding Agency (SFA).
The government is committed to help more people to benefit from high quality training schemes that benefit the individual and industry. It will deliver at least 250,000 more apprenticeships between 2011 to 2012 and 2014 to 2015 than had been planned by the previous government.
Over 100,000 employers are offering apprenticeships at more than 160,000 locations around the country.
Crossrail is committed to providing a minimum of 400 apprenticeships through its supply chain over the lifetime of the project and over 150 apprentices are now working on the project.
As well as apprenticeships, TUCA provides a range of training for those already working in the industry building on their skills and those seeking employment in this area.
Over 1,600 people have also taken training to earn their tunnel safety card at the academy, now an industry requirement for those working in tunnelling on the Crossrail project.
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