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Work underway on Birmingham’s £22 million high speed rail college

Work underway on Birmingham’s £22 million high speed rail college

🕔09.May 2016

Building work begins on the National High Speed Rail College in Birmingham today, eighteen months after Government approval for the £22 million scheme was given.

City council leader John Clancy will be at the Birmingham Science Park site in Lister Street, Aston, alongside Terry Morgan, chairman of the National College for High Speed Rail (NCHSR), and Beth West, Commercial Director, HS2 Ltd, in a ceremony to break the ground and mark the official start of construction.

The three-storey building, on land next to the Digbeth Branch Canal, will provide specialist vocational training and contain workshops, classrooms, a café and office space.

There will also be an external teaching area containing railway tracks, masts and social space next to the canal and support those working on the HS2 line between Birmingham and London.

The college, which will have a sister site in Doncaster, is due to welcome students from September 2017. It was designed by Sheffield-based Bond Bryan Architects and Willmott Dixon is the main contractor.

As many as 2,000 apprenticeship opportunities will be created by HS2, and there are expected to be about 25,000 people employed during construction. HS2 will support growth in the wider economy and it is predicted that this could lead to an additional 400,000 jobs.

The NCHSR is regarded by Birmingham council leaders as an ideal opportunity to address the West Midlands skills crisis, opening up opportunities for local school leavers to acquire engineering apprenticeships.

When approval for the college was granted in 2014, the Prime Minister, David Cameron, said:

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.

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. 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.

Speaking at the ground-breaking ceremony today, Minister of State for Transport Robert Goodwill said:

This landmark moment means we are one step closer to seeing students walk through the doors of the college in 2017, learning the cutting-edge skills we need to deliver HS2 and world-beating rail infrastructure.

This shows the transformational effect that HS2 is already having on our country – boosting skills, generating jobs and supporting economic growth – before spades are in the ground next year.

Terry Morgan, Chair of the Corporate Board for the National College for High Speed Rail, said:

The National College for High Speed Rail is progressing at an excellent pace and I am delighted that construction is underway on both sites in Birmingham and Doncaster.

The College will have a major and hugely positive impact on the ability of the rail industry to develop a multi-skilled specialist British workforce, capable of building HS2 and future infrastructure projects.

It will be a catalyst for growth in both Doncaster and Birmingham that will bring new investment into the area and provide highly skilled jobs for local people.

Councillor John Clancy, Leader of Birmingham City Council said:

This new college is a fantastic opportunity to build skills in this city and it’s really important that people across the whole of Birmingham benefit.

We have thousands of talented young engineers and scientists and this will be their chance to access world-leading, cutting-edge rail technology.

Birmingham will become the city of a thousand and one trades when we begin training an elite generation of high speed rail engineers.

The sites in Birmingham and Doncaster were selected following a consultation process which attracted a number of proposals from across the country. All bids were assessed against a range of criteria including the size and availability of a suitable site, accessibility, and the potential to develop strong links with employers and providers already operating in the sector.

The new college will be led by employers from the sector and will set industry standards for training based on emerging technology and the use of cutting-edge facilities, with trainers who are expert in their field. The specialist training at the college will be level 4 and over.

The NHSRC is the first specialist national college to be developed and, according to the Government, will help the UK economy and businesses to compete and grow as well as secure jobs and increase skills for future generations.

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