UK Skills Minister Nick Boles today (22 January) announced £1.1 million of government funding to match £1.7 million of industry investment to help create a legacy of engineering jobs and skills from major projects including the Crossrail development.
The project brings together industry leaders, including Crossrail-linked employers, working on major tunnelling and underground construction projects. It follows a successful bid from the group for funding through the government’s Employer Ownership Pilot.
“Our investment in major infrastructure projects has established the UK as a world-leader in tunnelling and underground construction,” said Boles. “Crossrail alone is supporting in the region of 55,000 jobs and with other major projects planned we want to go even further, to create a jobs legacy for future generations and give the industry the skills it needs to dig deeper and further.”
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The plans will focus on creating new routes into tunnelling jobs, as well as building the skills of current employees to provide the skilled workforce needed for major new projects like Crossrail 2 and High Speed 2. This includes:
- Creating and funding 75 new apprenticeships to provide new long-term careers
- Creating and delivering 20 specialist marine apprenticeships
- Creating a range of accredited courses to up-skill the tunnelling workforce, working with small sub-contractors and employees at all levels to train a total of 4,813 workers
The project will create a new industry partnership involving tunnelling and underground construction employers, to generate lasting benefits for current and future engineers. Part of the partnership’s work will see the creation of a new Industry Advisory Panel (IAP), representing all Crossrail-linked employers and future large tunnelling employers, working together to identify ways to grow the industry.
Terry Morgan, Crossrail Chairman said: “The volume of tunnelling and underground construction work taking place in the UK over the next decade is unprecedented. Crossrail, in partnership with its principal contractors, has delivered the most significant injection of new skills in a generation. It is essential that we continue to grow the industry’s talent base to ensure Britain remains at the forefront of major infrastructure delivery.”
More than £460 billion of public and private investment will be made into the UK’s economic infrastructure by 2020. The volume of tunnelling and underground construction work taking place in England over the next decade is unprecedented with the Thames Tideway Tunnel, National Grid and EDF electricity cable tunnels all requiring significant numbers of skilled people. Longer term, tunnelling skills will be required for Crossrail 2 and High Speed 2.
The £13 million Tunnelling and Underground Construction Academy (TUCA) in Ilford, East London, is a purpose-built training facility that supports the key skills required to work in tunnel excavation, underground construction and infrastructure. Opened in 2011, there have been over 8,000 enrolments to date. TUCA was supported by £5 million direct funding from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills via the Skills Funding Agency and is the only soft-ground tunnelling training facility in Europe. See: http://www.citb.co.uk/training-courses/tunnelling/