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UK Rail academies speed to meet the talent demand

2016-10-10 10:00:00 +0100 by Lisa Newman


Two new training academies are due to open in 2017 in order to meet the growing demand for more rail professionals.  

Birmingham based National College of High Speed Rail is due to open in September 2017 and Alstrom's new technology centre and training academy in Widnes is on track to open in May 2017. 

Both academies will offer employment and training opportunities within rail technology, engineering and construction; Widnes is expected to deliver up to 600 jobs and 15,000 days of training a year. 

Speaking back in April this year John Evans (ex-CEO of the National College of High Speed Rail), delivered a speech entitled 'Euston, we have a problem' which highlighted the skills shortfall within the rail industry, he said; “I’d like you to leave a little bit frightened and a little bit worried.” 

HS2, will create over 25,000 jobs in construction and engineering, but Evans said that currently British rail doesn’t have enough talent to meet it. He added that 87,000 graduate engineers are needed every year, but in 2013, the last year for which figures are available, only 51,000 completed their course. 

“If we don’t change that, we are not going to have enough people to work on HS2. We’re going to have to bring in overseas labour,” He stated that engineering needed a new image and recruitment tactics to show the full diversity of engineering work in order to appeal to a new generation, adding: “The title engineering doesn’t do your profession justice. We need to present the human side of engineering to Millennials and Generation Z.” 

Clair Mowbray has been appointed as the new CEO of the college and deliver that 'new image'.  Transport Secretary Chris Grayling visited the site last week and said more had to be done to train and recruit more rail professionals; 

"The UK is highly regarded for its engineering capabilities, but we need to do more to attract new talent to the sector as well as improving the skills of the current workforce. That is why the Government launched a transport skills strategy earlier this year committing us to create 30,000 apprenticeships across roads and rail by 2020. The National College for High Speed Rail is a vital part of these plans as it will provide the cutting-edge skills we need to deliver HS2 and other world-beating infrastructure."

At ALLEN & YORK our rail recruitment team are working with companies across the UK to source talented rail professionals for the growing number of projects.  We'd love to hear from you if you are looking for a move.

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