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HS2 Gets the Green Light | What This Means for UK Infrastructure

Rebekah Valero-Lee rail jobs

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Adrian Adair, Morson Group COO, discusses what the government's HS2 go ahead means for UK infrastructure, skills and labour demand. 

"The recruitment industry has been poised and ready to help attract, train and deploy the thousands of technical skillsets needed to deliver HS2, and today’s green light from the Prime Minister has finally given us the confidence and reassurance that the infrastructure project will become a reality.

As well as being dubbed as a catalyst for growth by transforming connectivity and capacity between the North and South, HS2 provides the perfect platform to develop a highly-skilled workforce across numerous technical sectors.

Together with carving out rewarding careers for tens of thousands of white- and blue-collar workers, the major project provides a clear pipeline to drive the next generation into engineering, with HS2 set to create some 2,000 apprenticeships.

Where we source this very talent will be integral, with current labour demands Vs supply, together with multiple economic, social, political and environmental factors, already posing risk to HS2’s delivery timeline.

The rail sector is unique when it comes to its forward-thinking outlook, with £billions being invested here over the next decade. But if we as UK talent specialists do not work together with our clients to plug the insufficient skills in the market and halt the sector’s rising age profile, then few others will.

The skills gap is the biggest barrier to HS2. Whilst supply chain partners work to achieve their SEE Outputs – something which is set upon them by HS2 Ltd – this will only become more difficult as the need for more on track talent ramps up as the project reaches its peak.

The impact of Brexit has also meant further losses to the available skillsets to draw from, meaning now, more than ever, we need to broaden our talent pools into overseas markets to plug this gap. Mr Johnson’s recent announcement to launch an Australian-style points-based immigration system could help to alleviate this pressure, with us able to attract much-needed talent that’s sensitive to the needs of HS2.

Today’s primary school children are HS2’s future train drivers and engineers. It’s also significant that we make apprenticeships the norm, whilst changing people’s perceptions of rail, to make this sector aspirational to all.

What’s clear is that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. But what is certain is that solving the UK’s skills problem should be top of the supply chain’s agenda to unleash HS2’s true potential in building a healthy and resilient UK economy."

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Read more about how Morson plan to tackle the UK's infrastructure skills shortage: