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New HS2 college shows the importance of infrastructure

The industry has broadly welcomed the announcement of a new further education college for HS2, to help tackle a skills shortage and train the next generation of engineers.

Announced yesterday, the college will deliver specialised training for HS2, as well as preparing the workforce for wider infrastructure projects.

Dr Tony Whitehead from the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) said: “The success of High Speed 2 will depend on the availability of world-class engineers and technicians. The sector is experiencing a skills shortage, so we welcome the Government’s announcement to establish a dedicated training college for HS2 engineers.”

But he also suggested that additional colleges for individual infrastructure projects should be considered.

“High Speed 2 is a high profile project and has the potential to play an important role in rebuilding the UK’s economy. However, the less high-profile projects such as superfast broadband and the fight against cyber security all require engineers and technicians and we need investment in these areas to ensure we have people with the right skills. Further education colleges in some of these other areas is something the Government should also consider.

“The recently published Perkins’ Review highlighted the skills crisis and fixing this requires sustained investment across the board to ensure we attract the next generation of engineers and technicians.”

Alistair Dormer, Hitachi Rail Europe's executive chairman and chief executive officer, said: “We are very pleased the government recognises the importance of good infrastructure. Hitachi Rail Europe is investing in Britain’s future through a new factory at Newton Aycliffe, in County Durham, which will employ 730 people building trains for the home and export market with Made in Britain stamped on them.

“As part of our commitment to the UK we are taking on apprentices in all our locations and will be working with a local college to train the engineers, technicians and designers of tomorrow.”

But Richard Houghton, a director for HS2AA, said: “The over-riding irony of setting up a college aimed at teaching HS2-relevant skills – details of which are scant – is that it will be a contribution towards creating a service which will bypass precisely the areas in most need of access to education and skills development, and will draw local talent away to areas of which will benefit specifically from an HS2 terminal.”

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Image c. HS2 Ltd


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