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Heathrow expansion to drive infrastructure skills scheme

3113984 heathrow taxiways

Former Home Secretary David Blunkett will today unveil recommendations for a new ‘‘infrastructure passport’’ that records the experience and skills of new workers in the industry.

Speaking at the TUC Conference in Manchester, Lord Blunkett will outline the scheme as part of a package of measures being proposed by the Heathrow Skills Taskforce aimed at boosting career progression and attracting people into the infrastructure sector.

The Taskforce claims the £14bn expansion of Heathrow can be the driver of a ‘‘national legacy of skills for future infrastructure projects’’. Workers at Heathrow will be able to detail their experience in the passport and use it like a CV when transferring to other major UK sites.

Additionally, Lord Blunkett will call for the establishment of a partnership with the further and higher education sectors that helps to adapt and reskill the existing workforce that benefits Heathrow and the wider infrastructure industry.

Lord Blunkett, who is chairman of the Heathrow Skills Taskforce, will tell delegates: “Our ambition is that these recommendations will help ensure Heathrow expansion and its legacy helps shape a stronger workforce for Britain’s future. These recommendations have the potential to challenge current industry practice for the long term benefit of the workforce and the economy.

“Britain is at a pivotal moment in improving its national infrastructure with major projects such as HS2, Hinkley Point C, Tideway, in addition to Heathrow expansion. It is clear from our research that collaboration will be key to meeting skills shortages and maximising productivity. Major projects, commercial partners and suppliers must work closer together to secure a new generation of home grown talent with world-class skills that Britain can be proud of.”

The taskforce, which is independent from Heathrow, turns the spotlight on the educational possibilities that could be created by the airport’s expansion.

It suggests that contractors should commit to delivering 10,000 ‘work experience’ days over the lifetime of the third runway project and work closely with the education sector to promote construction and engineering careers. Those efforts should include attracting older job seekers looking to change career and those from groups facing barriers to employment and career progression.

In the same vein, the taskforce is pushing Heathrow to set a target for apprenticeship places on the project which will cover its own contractors and businesses further down the supply chain. To guarantee this, Heathrow should write apprenticeship provision into contracts with suppliers as well as demanding the recruitment of local people in west London and having contractual terms ensuring suppliers meet diversity and inclusion targets.

Heathrow is expected to respond to the ideas in the report in early 2019.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • We really should stop talking about skills and apprenticeships and focus on deskilling, the need for traditional skills in new projects should be systematically removed from our industry.

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