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An engine for jobs growth: 3,160 days later... HS2 digging finally starts

  • Publish Date: Posted 11 months ago
  • Author: Rebekah Valero-Lee

​HS2, Europe's largest infrastructure project, will today move from enabling works to full construction, with digging finally starting on the project which was given the go-ahead on January 10, 2012. 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has heralded the HS2 rail link as an 'engine for jobs growth' as construction finally begins today. Mr Johnson said:

HS2 is at the heart of our plans to build back better – and with construction now formally under way, it's set to create around 22,000 new jobs. As the spine of our country's transport network, the project will be vital in boosting connectivity between our towns and cities.

But HS2's transformational potential goes even further. 

By creating hundreds of apprenticeships and thousands of skilled jobs, HS2 will fire up economic growth and help to rebalance opportunity across this country for years to come.

HS2 Ltd and its main contractors expect to recruit for around 22,000 roles in the coming years to build the phase one route. These will include 7,000 jobs in the West Midlands, more than 4,000 building the section from the Long Itchsington Wood site in Warwickshire south to the Chilterns, and 10,000 in the Greater London area.

The recruitment industry has been poised and ready to help attract, train and deploy the thousands of technical skillsets needed to deliver HS2, and as shovels break ground, Adrian Adair, Morson Group COO, discusses what HS2 becoming reality means for UK infrastructure, skills and labour demand. 

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.

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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