Rebekah Valero-Lee HS2
As construction work commences on HS2, Gary Hardaker, executive director at Vital Human Resources and Gary Smithson, associate director of rail at Morson International discuss what this means for skills and the economy in a project that is set to create 22,000 jobs.
“HS2 is badged as one of Britain’s biggest catalysts for growth and today’s announcement that spades have officially broken ground is a landmark moment in the infrastructure project’s schedule. Whilst the project has been underway for several years, this marks the start of construction and will provide a key confidence boost in its delivery with the public now able to see the high-speed line physically come to life for the first time.
“This news couldn’t come at a more poignant time – the UK is firmly focused on rebuilding a healthy and resilient economy against the backdrop of COVID-19. Yet out of adversity comes opportunity, with the HS2 project requiring a workforce that is set to reach more than 22,000 people at its peak. From apprenticeships through to skilled blue and white-collar disciplines, HS2 will create thousands of rewarding careers, and our efforts to support the project’s supply chain partners in sourcing and retaining the best talent is well underway, having supported the first phases of delivery to provide talent to fill numerous commercial, design, ground investigation and geotechnical study roles, to name but a few.
“HS2 provides a unique opportunity to all; from those entering the market at a junior level, those already within the industry who wish to upskill and those with the transferable skills to reskill and transition into the sector. At the Morson Group, we are focused on redeploying workers from struggling sectors to flourishing ones to preserve jobs, protect livelihoods and rebuild businesses, whilst also supporting our supply chain partners to achieve their SEE Outputs and ED&I targets that go beyond just gender diversity. Such objectives are mandated by HS2 Ltd to ensure the project provides a lasting legacy beyond the build, and we are committed to working collaboratively with our partners and peers to lead by example, share best practice including our core safety values, together with using fresh innovation to work smarter and achieve ongoing efficiencies in every area of what we do.
“Today’s focus is on sourcing the blue-collar talent needed to deliver the civils and construction phases, from labourers through to concrete operatives, and our understanding and expertise in infrastructure, as the rail sector’s number one recruiter, positions us as a go-to talent partner. We are committed to ensuring the infrastructure programme achieves its objectives and wider social value agenda, from prioritising local talent to delivering trained apprentices that can help plug skills gaps during future peaks.
“Looking beyond the clear employment and workforce mobility advantages, HS2 will provide fresh benefits for the communities and areas it passes through, whilst respecting the people it impacts and remaining sensitive to their needs. As the spine of the UK’s transport network, the high speed line will bring more destinations within easy reach, as it unlocks new focal points for regeneration and the opportunity for more areas – particularly those within the North – to establish themselves as key retail, leisure and cultural destinations, with the project’s wider regeneration benefits set to also create c.100,000 new homes and up to half a million new jobs.”