HS2 jobs summit to make Birmingham ‘Europe’s most investable city’
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin will meet city council leader John Clancy today to discuss how Birmingham can benefit from thousands of jobs likely to be created off the back of HS2.
Cllr Clancy is keen to make sure that at least 10 per cent of the new employment from the high speed rail line and the HS2 engineering college go to unemployed Birmingham residents.
Two years ago, along with many of his Labour council colleagues, Cllr Clancy maintained a healthy scepticism about whether HS2 would have the positive impact on the Birmingham economy claimed by the Government.
But he appears to have undergone a dramatic change of heart and now believes the arrival of high speed rail at Curzon Street and at an NEC/Airport interchange station will make Birmingham and the Greater Birmingham area “the most investible city in Europe”.
According to the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership’s Midlands Growth Strategy, HS2 will create and safeguard a total of 104,000 jobs and generate £14 billion for the economy.
Inward investment into Birmingham, already running at record levels, will be boosted further by the availability of redevelopment sites around Curzon Street and the interchange station. The sites will benefit from new, fast access to London and the north of England.
HS2’s administrative offices are about to open at Two Snowhill, Birmingham, accommodating 1,500 staff.
The National College for High Speed Rail’s Birmingham campus is expected to play an important role in tackling the city’s skills crisis. Fifty per cent of learners at the college will be studying for a Higher Apprenticeship.
As well as up-skilling the existing workforce, the college will prepare school leavers and career changers for jobs in high speed rail and the wider rail industry, providing future generations with the skills needed to build HS2 and other future infrastructure projects.
In addition to the qualifications delivered by the college, the GBSLEP growth strategy predicts that up to 36 per cent of the local population will be qualified to NVQ Level 4+, with 2,000 apprenticeships anticipated.
Cllr Clancy told a meeting of the city council it was vital to make sure as many jobs as possible went to unemployed local people, but this would mean making sure applicants had the right skills.
He spoke about the faith the business community has in HS2:
There is no question in the 62 days I have been leader of the council in discussions across the city, especially with business groups, that the arrival of HS2 really is regarded as a game changer for the future economic development of Birmingham.
We see HS2 as being really significant particularly for this city and I shall bang the drum for HS2 and the college as being a really important part of the identity and brand of this city.
The presence of the Interchange and Curzon Street stations is something that is completely changing the profile of Birmingham internationally as an investment centre. On a lot of measures Birmingham is the most investable city in the UK and we may well go up the league table in terms of investability in Europe and HS2 is central to that.
Cllr Clancy, who will be vice-chair of GBSLEP’s HS2 Delivery Board, said he wanted to “fold HS2 into the solution of some of our problems”, in particular solving the skills crisis.
He also held open the possibility that some of the 1,200 Birmingham city council staff due to be made redundant this year might find administrative work with HS2 bility of redevelopmen
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