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£8M released for tunnel and rail skills training

Rail and construction industry training received an £8M boost from the government last week when the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) released support funding for the tunnelling and rail engineering skills academies.

BIS said the Learning & Skills Council will provide £5M for the Tunnelling and Underground Construction Academy, set up under the aegis of Crossrail and kick started with £8M of cash from the project last year (NCE 20 April 2009)

It also launched a new National Skills Academy for Rail Engineering (NSARE) with a dowry of £3M from the Skills Funding Agency. Skills academies are employer-led and funded.

Crossrail and NSARE steering group chairman Terry Morgan said the announcements were vital to Britain’s rail and tunnelling industries.

“We can now build this training facility which the industry urgently needs.”

Terry Morgan

“Delivery of major projects and maintenance of the existing railway both depend on a comprehensive skills base and the academy will be essential to ensure this need is met,” he said.

“This is great news for the [Crossrail] programme and great news for the tunnelling and underground construction industry. This decision means we can now progress our plans to build this fantastic training facility, which the industry so urgently needs.”

The tunnelling and underground construction academy will train up to 1,800 people a year in Newham, London.

Construction will start later this year and the academy is expected to be operational by early 2011. National Grid may contribute further funding.

Next step for the rail academy is “to complete the detailed business plan and work towards starting operation in 2011”, said NSARE programme director Gil Howarth.

Readers' comments (3)

  • Douglas Parkes

    This is tremendous news and fulfils the dream that many of us had back in Victorias Line days for established and recognised tunnelling skills qualifications and a substantial body of properly qualified people. The forthcoming Standard of Safe Practice in Tuunnelling in Construction will be another part of that , of course, but what will be needed is a consistent workload for those qualified people - something that requires cross-political will and a mechanism to support it, such as the proposed construction bank.
    Douglas Parkes

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  • This is great news, but it was well overdue looking at the skill levels today. I believe more should be done in these areas.

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  • How do the qualification compare with university civil engineering degrees?

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