The new chairman of HS2, Sir David Higgins, has outlined plans to open a new college which will focus on developing the skills needed to deliver Britain’s high-speed rail network.

Announcing the plans, the Department for Transport (DfT) said the facility “will offer the necessary technical training to make HS2 a success and ensure it can be built by skilled British workers including; rail engineering, environmental skills and construction”.

Ministers are hoping the college will be open by 2017 to coincide with the start of work on the project.[pullquote align=”right”]This country produces some of the best engineers to be found anywhere in the world. The problem is that there aren’t enough of them…[/pullquote]

David Higgins said: “This country produces some of the best engineers to be found anywhere in the world. The problem is that there aren’t enough of them, and there isn’t a long enough guaranteed work-stream to keep them here. So they tend to go overseas.

“HS2 provides us with a unique chance to address both issues. The sheer length of the project means we can offer people a rewarding career in engineering staying in this country, whilst the multiplicity of skills required means we will be equipping a new generation with experience at the cutting edge of technology.

“So HS2 gives us the chance not just to re-balance the economic geography of the country, but also our national skills base. It is an opportunity we should seize.”

Secretary of State for Business Vince Cable said: “HS2 is the biggest infrastructure project that this government is delivering. So it is right that a large scale investment in bricks and mortar should also come with investment in the elite skills which will help build it. That’s why this government is launching the first further education college in over 20 years, which will train the next generation of engineers in rail, construction and environmental studies that this country needs to prosper.”

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