The Government wants to create 30,000 apprenticeships in the road and rail industry over the course of this Parliament, transport minister Patrick McLoughlin said today.
The drive is designed to help support the more than £70bn the Government has committed to improving transport infrastructure, which includes the Crossrail project and the most extensive improvements to roads since the 1970s.
Speaking at a visit to the National Training Academy for Rail (NTAR) in Northampton today, McLoughlin announced the appointment of Terry Morgan, chairman of Crossrail, to develop a transport and infrastructure skills strategy that will help ensure a continuous pipeline of skilled transport workers.
“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," said McLoughlin.
“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."
The strategy will set out how government and industry can deliver on the ambition to create 30,000 apprenticeships in roads and rail over the five years to 2020 while ensuring the right mix of high- and low-skill-level apprenticeships are on offer.
It will also suggest how to develop a national network of colleges to train the transport workers of the future as well how to encourage greater diversity in the workforce, in particular how to attract more women into engineering.
The strategy is designed to be complementary to the Government’s National Infrastructure Plan for Skills, which is due to be published soon.
“I’m really pleased to be leading this work," said Morgan. "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.”
The NTAR, where today's announcement was made, is a joint venture between Siemens and the National Skills Academy for Railway Engineering (NSARE), co-funded by government, and is due to open this autumn.
Neil Robertson, CEO of NSARE, said: “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, also backed the drive, saying that investment in training apprentices was money well spent for the industry.
"We know this investment pays off with 83 per cent of the 2,000 apprentices trained since 2005 still working for us and contributing to a safer and better railway every day," he said.
“We’re also building for the future with a programme worth £37m adding three new training centres across Britain, making a total of seven which will be capable of delivering 270,000 training days a year for Network Rail and 250 different railway companies.”