Jessica Tabinor Vital Rail
There is an ongoing discussion in the industry relating to the skills gap an how we need to strengthen our UK skills base through apprenticeships, diversity and social engagement. HS2 Ltd’s strategic objectives in relation to skills provide a structure for mitigating this gap, however, there are still challenges associated with achieving all of the targets set. To understand these challenges, we hosted a roundtable event held at the National College High-Speed Rail (NCHSR’s) Birmingham Campus, which brought together representatives from the Morson Group, HS2 Ltd and the supply chain to discuss the issues and opportunities around training, apprenticeships, collaboration, Government policy and more.
We take a closer look at some of our findings surrounding tackling worklessness within rail:
HS2 is the perfect vehicle to address worklessness in some of the UK’s most deprived areas by tackling unemployment with quality roles and upskilling opportunities. Yet the opinions of those Tier 1 contractors in attendance was that worklessness was one of, if not the most difficult SEE target to achieve.
Workless job starts are defined as one SEE output by HS2 Ltd, where a candidate that was previously unemployed sustains employment for a period of at least 26 weeks. Workless graduate job starts are another SEE output, classed as when a graduate was previously unemployed before commencing their new role.
Worklessness must be tackled through the delivery of integrated and co-ordinated recruitment programmes that specifically focus on individual needs and circumstances in order to provide candidates with the right support and confidence to access the HS2 labour market.
From a professional services perspective, it is critical that we design courses that specifically support the aspirational engagement of unemployed/workless candidates, alongside a bespoke programme of long-term skills delivery.
Sharing best practice across the industry will also enable success to be replicated. Morson Vital Training (MVT) has an effective and impactive NEET campaign that has not only supported candidates back into work, but also seen NEET candidates win awards such as the apprentice of the year.
“We’re working in some of the deprived areas in and around the West Midlands and you just see the excitement on people’s faces when you offer them an apprenticeship. One young man had his mum and dad crying in the background when we offered him the apprenticeship and he said that people from where he grew up didn’t get opportunities like this, which shows the real lasting legacy of what we can actually do as a consortium.”
Dan Perry, interim senior resourcing manager at BBV.