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Government and industry invest in tunnelling skills

The government and industry have unveiled plans to invest nearly £3m in creating a ‘pipeline of growth’ for UK tunnelling and underground construction. 

Skills minister Nick Boles announced that £1.1m of government funding, to match £1.7m of industry investment, has been made available to help “create a legacy of engineering jobs and skills from major projects, including the Crossrail development”. 

The project ,which will create a new industry partnership involving tunnelling and underground construction employers, will focus on creating new routes into tunnelling jobs, as well as building the skills of current employees to provide the skilled workforce needed for major projects like Crossrail 2 and HS2. 

This includes: 

  • Creating and funding 75 new apprenticeships to provide new long-term careers;
  • Creating and delivering 20 specialist marine apprenticeships; and
  • Creating a range of accredited courses to up-skill the tunnelling workforce, working with small sub-contractors and employees at all levels to train a total of 4,813 workers. 

Boles said: “Crossrail alone is supporting in the region of 55,000 jobs and with other major projects planned we want to go even further, to create a jobs legacy for future generations and give the industry the skills it needs to dig deeper and further.” 

Part of the partnership’s work will see the creation of a new Industry Advisory Panel (IAP), representing all Crossrail-linked employers and future large tunnelling employers, working together to identify ways to grow the industry. 

Terry Morgan, Crossrail chairman, added that the volume of tunnelling and underground construction work taking place in the UK over the next decade is “unprecedented”. 

“Crossrail, in partnership with its principal contractors, has delivered the most significant injection of new skills in a generation,” he said. “It is essential that we continue to grow the industry’s talent base to ensure Britain remains at the forefront of major infrastructure delivery.” 

The government funding has been released following on from a successful bid to the £340m Employer Ownership Pilot (EOP) competitive fund, which invited employers, over two rounds, to tell government how they would better use public investment, alongside their own, to invest in the skills of their current and future workforce in order to grow our economy. 

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