by Phil Marsh

Birmingham and Doncaster chosen as dual locations for High Speed Rail colleges

Published: 26th October 2014

Get ready to bid for High Speed cash next year

Birmingham and Doncaster have been announced as the locations where the National College for High Speed Rail will be based. The former at the city centre Science Park will be the main base, with the latter at the Lakeside Campus playing a smaller part of the set-up.

The aim is to build on training achievements made on other major projects such as Crossrail which established a tunneling college. Specialist vocational training will be given for the High Speed 2 (HS2) project’s next generation of engineers. The idea is that the HS2 project will produce thousands of engineers who will be able to guide major projects for decades to come.

The governing board will be chaired by Terry Morgan, chairman of Crossrail, and will be joined by representatives from Birmingham and Doncaster, alongside HS2 Ltd and leading industry employers. Doncaster was selected because of its existing links to established rail industry businesses.

The Government announced that up to 2,000 apprenticeships are set to be created by HS2 which will provide employment for an estimated 25,000 people in the construction phase. HS2 has been estimated to eventually create economic growth in the wider economy leading to an additional 400,000 jobs.

They said;

Prime Minister David Cameron said: As a crucial part of our long term economic plan, this government is backing business with better infrastructure so that more jobs and opportunities are created for hardworking people.

The benefits of high-speed rail will not just be seen by those commuting between London and the North, but through the thousands of local jobs and apprenticeships created because of HS2.

The opening of this National College will also ensure that we have a pool of locally-trained workers with the right skills to draw upon for future projects.

Secretary of State for Business Vince Cable said:

The opening of this college demonstrates that the UK is advancing as a global leader in rail manufacturing - in line with the government’s Industrial Strategy.

This is the next step in building the highly skilled specialist workforce needed to develop the biggest infrastructure project this country has ever seen, and to enable our rail industry to compete in future global markets. This process has demonstrated a real commitment from all parts of the country to the development of a cutting edge training facility and a rail workforce which is the best in the world.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said:

Creating jobs by delivering better infrastructure is a key part of the government’s long term economic plan. And they do not come any bigger than HS2, which will be the largest infrastructure project in Europe, creating tens of thousands of jobs.

HS2 is vital to rebalance the economy and help secure the country’s future prosperity, and construction will start in just 3 years. We have brilliant engineers in this country, but there are not enough of them. With the creation of a National College we can make sure we give young people the skills they need to build HS2 and other projects right across the country.

Why Birmingham and Doncaster?

The HS2 sites were chosen after a consultation process which attracted strong bids from across the country but the ability to develop strong links with employers and existing rail industry providers scored heavily in the winners’ favour.

HS2 said that the new college will be led by employers from the sector and set industry standards for training based on emerging technology and the use of cutting-edge facilities. They will use expert trainers who will oversee training at level 4 and over.

The buildings will now be constructed and courses developed to make sure the training is suitable for the needs of the next generation of engineers. The demographic profile of rail engineers has been causing concern for some years now perhaps reflecting decades of under investment as many are at retirement age.

The college will open in 2017 by which time it will have identified a network of providers who will also be part of the National College in a ‘hub and spoke’ model. The High Speed Rail College is the first specialist National College to be developed and is designed to help the economy and businesses to compete for business and to secure jobs and increase skills for future generations.

HS2 Ltd has also announced that the HS2 network control centre will be located at Washwood Heath in Birmingham.

High Speed Cash up for grabs

Transport Minister Robert Goodwill has announced that communities and businesses located near HS2 will benefit from grants worth up to £30 million. Two funds, the Community and Environment Fund and the Business and Local Economy Fund will make up to £30 million available for residents and local communities between London and Birmingham.

The cash is available to invest in public projects such as the refurbishment of local community centres, nature conservation and measures to support local economies and employment. Community groups, charities, non-governmental organisations and business support organisations are eligible to bid for grants which will become available from 2017 when construction commences until 2026 when the line is built.

New Philanthropy Capital which has extensive experience in this grant giving area will be working with HS2 Ltd to ensure effective use of the cash. Criteria includes working with local authorities and local enterprise partnerships on the proposals for eligibility and application criteria for the fund. The criteria will be made public next year enabling local communities to plan ahead.

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