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Government set to create 30,000 apprenticeships in road & rail this Parliament

Building apprenticeships in transport sector at heart of government infrastructure investment plans

  • Government ambition to create 30,000 apprenticeships in road and rail industry in this Parliament
  • Crossrail chair Terry Morgan CBE to deliver transport and infrastructure skills strategy
  • Transport Secretary visits National Training Academy for Rail in Northampton, due to open this autumn

More than 30,000 apprenticeship places will be created across the road and rail industry during the lifetime of this Parliament the government pledged today (21 August 2015).

Speaking on a visit to the National Training Academy for Rail in Northampton the Secretary of State for Transport, Patrick McLoughlin, announced the ambition in a vital boost to the transport industry.

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Government has committed more than £70 billion to improving transport infrastructure, including the most ambitious investment in rail since the Victorian era, and the most extensive improvements to roads since the 1970s. This investment will make journeys better. It will also deliver a sustained and lasting legacy of skills and opportunity for people across the UK.

To help deliver this ambition Patrick McLoughlin announced the appointment of Terry Morgan CBE to develop a transport and infrastructure skills strategy, to help the transport industry ensure a continuous pipeline of skilled workers.

Patrick McLoughlin said:

Training our rail and road workforce is essential if we want to build a transport network fit for the future. That is why I have invited Terry Morgan to join us in this vital work.

As the chairman of Crossrail, and the forthcoming National College for High Speed Rail, Terry has a track record of building skills in the transport sector. He is ideally positioned to work with industry to deliver a transport and infrastructure skills strategy.

I want to see every part of Britain benefiting from a growing economy and that is why our investment in transport won’t just help people get around, it will help them get on.

The skills strategy will set out how government and industry will:

  • deliver on its ambition for 30,000 apprenticeships in roads and rail over the 5 years to 2020, working together with supply chain partners
  • ensure the right mix of apprenticeships are on offer, including many at higher levels with training in new technologies
  • explore upskilling the existing workforce to meet new challenges
  • encourage greater diversity in the workforce, including attracting more women into engineering
  • develop a co-ordinated national network of transport infrastructure skills colleges to train the transport workers of the future

This work will sit alongside the government’s National Infrastructure Plan for Skills due to be published soon.

Commenting on today’s announcement Terry Morgan said:

I’m really pleased to be leading this work. It’s vital that we develop the workforce of the future, ensuring the transport industry has the right people in the right place at the right time, and crucially with the right skills, to deliver this unprecedented programme of infrastructure work. I’m very much looking forward to working with colleagues across the road and rail industry, and to leaving a legacy of skills for the future.

Across the country government and industry are investing to deliver the skills the industry needs. This includes:

  • the opening this autumn of the National Training Academy for Rail (NTAR) in Northampton — a joint venture between Siemens and the National Skills Academy for Railway Engineering (NSARE), co funded by government
  • the Crossrail tunnelling academy, which will now be the beacon academy for tunnelling across industry
  • Network Rail’s 7 national training centres, Larbert in Scotland, Walsall in the Midlands, Bristol in the west and Paddock Wood in the south, alongside Basingstoke, York and Swindon, which will be completed in 2016
  • the opening of the new National College for High Speed Rail in 2017 which will deliver high level technical qualifications
  • the Roads Academy programme to train the leaders of the future
  • Transport for London’s work with the London Transport Museum supporting schools initiatives, including Inspire Engineering Days and ongoing support for the Royal Greenwich University Technical College equipping the students with engineering skills and expertise — TfL has also invested £1 million in training facilities at its Acton Skills and Training Centre

In support of today’s announcement Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin and Terry Morgan visited the newly constructed NTAR site in Northampton, which will open its doors to students this autumn.

The academy will boost expertise and skills levels in rail engineering. Thousands of young people will gain vital training in specialist traction and rolling stock and many others will learn the skills they need to respond to new technology in the UK rail industry.

Neil Robertson CEO of NSARE said:

Over 200,000 experienced staff currently run Britain’s railways. However, an ageing workforce together with a leap in the application of digital and modern technologies means there are now significant demands on the number and type of skills we need for the future.

The curriculum at the National Training Academy for Rail (NTAR), developed jointly by NSARE with Siemens, has been developed to provide advanced technical knowledge in traction and rolling stock as well as broader leadership, digital, and commercial skills to meet these changing demands. We welcome the government’s commitment to creating a workforce with the advanced skills now required in this industry.

Mark Carne, Network Rail Chief Executive said:

We need a highly skilled workforce to enable us to deliver our multi-billion pound railway upgrade plan and a network fit for the 21st century. That’s why we have a steadfast commitment to training and developing everyone from apprentices and graduates to up-skilling our 35,000-strong workforce and others across the industry with the latest digital, technical and engineering skills. We know this investment pays off with 83% of the 2,000 apprentices trained since 2005 still working for us and contributing to a safer and better railway every day.

We’re also building for the future with a programme worth £37 million adding 3 new training centres across Britain, making a total of 7 which will be capable of delivering 270,000 training days a year for Network Rail and 250 different railway companies.

Welcoming today’s announcement, Highways England Chief Executive Jim O’Sullivan said:

In order to triple the amount of investment going into England’s motorways and major A roads on an annual basis, from some £1.5 to over £4 billion, we’re going to need more industry specific skills available to us and within our business.

The certainty of capital funding over 5 years that comes with becoming a government-owned company gives us and our supply chain the confidence to invest in people — attracting, retaining and developing capable people to deliver our expanding programme of work. An important part of this is the creation of apprenticeship opportunities across all disciplines so that we are building and maintaining a pipeline of talent into the sector.

London’s Transport Commissioner, Mike Brown MVO, said:

Apprenticeships offer a fantastic opportunity for people to learn new skills in the workplace and apply that talent across the transport sector, from signalling to tunnelling to major roads projects. With our supply chain across the whole of the UK, TfL has created over 5,500 apprenticeship roles since 2009. The London transport network supports more than 30 million journeys every day. With the city’s population set to grow from 8.6 million today to 10 million by 2030, more railway and road apprentices will play key roles to deliver an expanded, more reliable network capable of keeping the city working and growing for the benefit of the whole national economy.

Commenting on today’s announcement, Steve Scrimshaw, Managing Director of Siemens Rail Systems, said:

At Siemens we have long recognised the need and importance of developing the UK skills base for the rail sector and it is fantastic to once again see the continued support from the Department for Transport as expressed by the Secretary of State Patrick McLoughlin today. Addressing the significant skills shortage in the sector at a time of unprecedented investment is a priority for us as an organisation and our support for the National Training Academy for Rail and our partners at NSARE is a testament to this. This academy will play a key part in transforming the way in which the UK develops skills across the rail sector and we are proud to play such a key role in it.

Alison Munro, HS2 Ltd Development Director said:

There is growing demand for railway engineering skills across the UK, which HS2 will both need and sustain, so it is excellent to see the continued support from the Department for Transport as expressed by Patrick McLoughlin today.

HS2 Ltd is also committed to delivering at least 2,000 apprenticeships, allowing young people the fantastic opportunity to learn key skills and develop their career with a national infrastructure project.

Already, the National Skills Academy Railway Engineering (NSARE) is helping to address current and future skills needs and the National College for High Speed Rail will continue this work.

We will continue to work with the Government to make sure we deliver a tangible skills legacy that will serve this country for the next century and continues the UK’s proud tradition of providing engineering expertise.

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