Leading businesses pledge support for High Speed Rail apprenticeship trailblazer



The National College for High Speed Rail has received a pledge of support from more than 30 businesses, for a specialist High Speed Rail and Infrastructure Apprenticeship, also known as the ‘trailblazer’.

This is aimed at addressing the current shortfall of 69,000 engineers and technicians per year across the UK.

The new Level 4 High Speed Rail and Infrastructure Higher Technician Apprenticeship standard is being established to ensure that workers in the rail and engineering sector will have the necessary skills to design and build the UK’s new high speed rail network, including HS2 and future rail projects.

It has been crafted by the 30 businesses on behalf of the National College for High Speed Rail – the largest of five national employer-led colleges being created by the Government to help British students develop world-class skills.

With two campuses under construction on the banks of the Grand Union Canal in Birmingham and in Lakeside, Doncaster, the college is dedicated to solving the engineering, design, planning, manufacturing and construction skills gap in the rail and engineering sector.

In September 2017, a cohort of apprentices already working within the rail industry will be commencing study.  After being inundated with expressions of interest, potential students are being invited to turn their interest into an actual application to start in September 2018.

Led by employers, the apprenticeship will form a core part of the curriculum at the new college, combining on-the-job training with studying towards the equivalent of a foundation degree. Learners will be paid during their study, and mentored by a high speed rail employer as they build their skills towards achieving full-time employment after finishing the course.

Clair Mowbray, chief executive of the National College for High Speed Rail, said:

“As an employer-led college, the support we receive from businesses is absolutely critical in ensuring that we equip future generations with the real-life skills that will be needed to develop the UK’s high speed rail infrastructure.

“We are very grateful for the support we’ve already received – not only for our apprenticeship trailblazers but also in terms of equipment donations and pledges to take on learners following their time at the college.  We would still like to hear from businesses and industry professionals who are interested in working with us to prepare the future workforce in rail and engineering.

“Those interested can contact the college to pledge their support, after which they will receive more information about opportunities to work with us on addressing the UK’s current skills shortage.”

Chris Kearns, project manager for Rhomberg Sersa, said:
“By working with the National College for High Speed Rail and with the support of many other employers across the industry, we’re setting out new apprenticeship standards that will help to produce the next generation of UK rail engineers.   High speed rail projects, including HS2, will, over the next few decades be a major source for employment and so this is an exciting time to begin training in our industry.

“We want to equip our future workforce with the skills they need to make the high speed rail network a huge success.  This is why in addition to setting new training standards, we have also been working with the college and our suppliers to secure more than £300,000 worth of materials at no cost for the National College for High Speed Rail.  It’s a long-term commitment and we will continue to do all that we can to train the rail engineers of the future”.

Employers within the group who have pledged their official support so far include:  ALIGN Joint Venture (JV) (Bouygues Travaux Publics, Sir Robert McAlpine, VolkerFitzpatrick), Alstom, Arup, ASL JV (Acciona, Sisk, Lagan), Atkins, Balfour