Plans announced for new college to train next generation of world-class engineers to work on construction of High Speed 2 (HS2).
Metro Chairman Cllr James Lewis today welcomed the unveiling of plans for a new Further Education college that will deliver the specialised training and qualifications that will benefit HS2 and other future infrastructure projects across the country.
He said "Establishing this college teaching the skills that will be required in the design, development and construction of HS2 represents a great opportunity for young people studying in West Yorkshire's local schools and colleges today to develop careers developing the rail network of tomorrow.
"Schools in Birmingham, which is on the first phase of HS2, have started with a Baccalaureate HS2 module to help pupils develop the appropriate skills and this new college sees the beginnings of similar opportunities for young people in our area."
Announcing the new college, Skills and Enterprise Minister Matthew Hancock said it would build relationships with a network of affiliated facilities, providing students from across the country will have opportunities to become and work along the line.
Research has shown that HS2 could deliver 13,200 jobs in the Leeds City Region and could boost productivity in West Yorkshire by £1bn per year within five years of opening. Joining up the high-speed and existing lines for additional passengers and freight trains could generate an additional £300m to £800m of benefits for the Leeds and Sheffield two City Regions.
Commenting on the potential physical location of the college, which has yet to be decided, Cllr Lewis said, "The Leeds City Region Skills Network is made up of 14 Further Education Colleges, nine Higher Education Institutions and private & voluntary sector skills providers from across Leeds City Region working together to meet the needs of employers and the city region economy, so would be well placed to work with HS2 on the development of the new college.
"However, the news that the College will work in partnership with existing Further and Higher Education providers across the UK, means that wherever it is, young people from West Yorkshire and the Leeds City region will have opportunities to forge careers in HS2 and other future schemes.”
Secretary of State for Transport Patrick McLoughlin said, “Creating jobs by delivering better infrastructure is a key part of the Government’s long term economic plan. When open, it is predicted that HS2 will underpin the delivery of 400,000 jobs.”
Cllr Lewis also welcomed comments by Sir David Higgins interviewed on this morning’s BBC Radio 4 Today programme, during which the HS2 Chairman said he will be looking at how the scheme ‘can be done more quickly and bring benefits to the North earlier’.
“Today’s announcement of the college showed how our young people will be able to start benefitting from HS2 way ahead of its opening,” he said. “Sir David’s comments about speeding up the scheme also mean that the new jobs that HS2 will create and the extra comfort that it means local commuters will enjoy could become a reality sooner than we expect.”