The roof structure on the National College of High Speed Rail in Birmingham has been finalised, meaning it is on track to open to students in September 2017.
The government said that finalising the roof structure was a significant milestone in the construction phase. When complete, it will provide the specialist training, skills and qualifications required to build High Speed 2 (HS2) and future rail infrastructure projects.
The college, based in Birmingham’s university district, along with its sister site in Doncaster’s Lakeside, will play a vital role in ensuring Britain addresses the impending skills shortage in the engineering sector while upskilling the current workforce, said a government spokesperson.
The government has estimated that British businesses will need approximately 87,000 graduate level engineers every year for the next 10 years and 30% of the current workforce will need further training to deliver the demands of the high speed rail industry.
“HS2 will be the backbone of our national rail network and help us build an economy that works for all. The significant benefits of the scheme will not just be felt from when the trains start running,” said Transport secretary Chris Grayling.
“Work on the new college sites shows the transformational effect that HS2 is already having, creating jobs and supporting economic growth. Around 25,000 jobs and 2,000 apprenticeships will be generated during construction of HS2, which is due to begin next year.
Grayling said that the UK was highly regarded for its engineering capabilities, but that it needed to do more to attract new talent to the sector as well as improving the skills of the current workforce.
“That is why the government launched a transport skills strategy earlier this year committing us to create 30,000 apprenticeships across roads and rail by 2020. The National College for High Speed Rail is a vital part of these plans as it will provide the cutting-edge skills we need to deliver HS2 and other world-beating infrastructure,” he said.
Jada Bailey-Webber, who lives in Birmingham and has already registered her interest in enrolling at the college, said: “I’m currently doing a Rail Engineering transition course at Aston University Engineering Academy, which involves trackside learning and working with businesses, helping to prepare me to attend the National College for High Speed Rail.
“Using my current engineering qualifications, studying further at the college and working alongside businesses to get hands on work experience will help prepare me for my future career.”
HS2 Ltd commercial director Beth West said that the college has also confirmed the appointment of Clair Mowbray as its new CEO to take the project forward.
Businesses interested in upskilling employees and those considering a career path in the high speed rail industry can register their interest at the college’s newly launched website: www.nchsr.ac.uk