Jessica Tabinor Rail Electrification and Plant
HS2 is committed to supporting and promoting technical and professional learning through the greater availability and take-up of apprenticeships during construction and operation.
Overcoming the negative perceptions around apprenticeships, especially those at lower levels, was a key theme on the agenda at our roundtable event held at the National College High-Speed Rail (NCHSR’s) and one that most supply chain partners and education providers need greater support in overcoming.
Apprenticeships are still dismissed and characterised as the ‘last resort’, which is preventing many young people from achieving their potential through this aspirational career route. Many of those around the table gave present-day examples of how their outstanding apprenticeship programmes were being dismissed by young people and their parents. This clearly shows that more needs to be done to improve the perceptions of apprenticeships and showcase how this pathway offers just as many advantages, if not more, as traditional education routes.
Apprenticeships are a priority for HS2 as 50% of a contractor’s SEE targets must comprise apprentice recruitment as well as support for the NCHSR, workless job starts or work placements.
Awareness campaigns targeted at successful behavioural change are needed. These campaigns need to engage media as well as key influencers such as teachers and parents. Engineering must be shown in the best light possible, positioning itself alongside other typically aspirational careers such as doctors, lawyers and accountants.
According to IET’s research into what a ‘typical’ engineer looks like, more than 44% of schoolchildren believed they would wear a hard hat, 40% a hi-vis jacket, 67% said an engineer would be male and 51% said white. HS2 Ltd aims to inspire more young people to explore apprenticeships by presenting a new, modern image for the sector that’s user focussed, technology-driven and engineering led. If we are to successfully change the sector’s image then more must be done. Images of cutting edge technology, teamwork and creativity are far more appealing to young people and is the perception that we must work to collectively promote.
Social media engagement campaigns and ‘gamification’ are other successful alternative strategies to target youngsters, mirroring the same successes from organisations that already adopt these approaches such as Sony, Samsung and Siemens.
Gamification can lend itself to many different purposes, such as marketing and managing employee health, but is now increasingly used recruitment. Not only does gamification help to match candidates to roles but also is an aspirational engagement tool that can generate awareness of the training opportunities throughout HS2.