New generation of engineers gear up for careers in high speed rail

Posted by adminbackup - December 18, 2015 - Newsroom - No Comments

New generation of engineers gear up for careers in high speed rail

  •  Local students to become high speed rail engineers of the future
  • Scholarship programme continues to help address major UK skills shortage in the built environment

Local engineering students who will be among the first to work on the new high speed rail route were unveiled at an annual awards ceremony today (Friday 18 December).

The Building Birmingham Scholarship announced this year’s 25 young scholars who are set to pursue careers in the built environment sector. The 16-24 year olds, a third of whom are female and the majority of whom live in priority wards* across the city, will receive education, employment and training opportunities including financial support through the programme and will be joining the 16 scholars recruited from last year.

The Scholarship is run by Birmingham City Council with support from partner contractors on the Birmingham Municipal Housing Trust (BMHT) framework**.

In previous years, the scholars have secured work placements, gained valuable on-the-job experience, made industry connections and, in some cases, have secured direct employment with participating companies. It is anticipated that the class of 2015/16 will benefit from similar outcomes.

Anisa Haque, from Bordesley Village in Birmingham, is one of the scholars taking part in the Building Birmingham Scholarship in 2015/16. Studying Civil Engineering at Coventry University, she is the youngest of seven siblings but the first in her family to pursue a career in engineering.

“My sisters and brothers have followed careers in medicine, teaching and IT but my big interest has always been engineering. I know it’s not a career that many girls have pursued but I enjoy maths and physics and after learning about HS2, it was an easy decision for me to follow this career path,” she said.

“Jobs in rail engineering aren’t necessarily boring, old-fashioned, dirty or dangerous. There is going to be a lot of demand for highly-skilled technicians and engineers in the years to come so I will have lots of chances for personal and professional development.

“The Scholarship has been great by providing me with mentoring and advice, and supporting me through my university course. When I graduate in 2019, I’d love to work on HS2 or undertake extra vocational training at the National College for High Speed Rail. I can’t wait,” she added.

Another student looking to make the most of HS2’s arrival in the region is Wahid Iqbal from Washwood Heath. Currently studying Construction Project Management at Birmingham City University, he said: “I know it will take professionals from across the entire built environment sector to enable HS2 to go ahead, and I want to be part of that.

“My family initially wanted me study a more traditional science subject but after hearing about the Scholarship and learning about some of the fantastic career pathways that are available in the industry, it helped change their perspective of working in the built environment and I feel I am now in the best possible position to achieve my full potential.”

Councillor Tahir Ali, Cabinet Member for Development, Transport and Economy at Birmingham City Council, said: “If promises are kept, Birmingham will be at the heart of the national HS2 network. We are therefore determined that our ambitious young people will be a part of a highly-skilled workforce delivering what is one of the biggest infrastructure projects in Europe.

“This Scholarship provides access to education, employment and training opportunities and financial support.  It makes sure these rising stars are at the heart of Birmingham’s exciting future.”

Andrew Cleaves, Board Director at GBSLEP, said initiatives such as Building Birmingham Scholarship would help to transform the lives of local people in line with the HS2 Growth Strategy plan. “With such a young population here in the region, skills development, apprenticeship opportunities and work placements leading to high-value jobs are vital. This initiative will help create a skills legacy for generations to come” he commented.



*Birmingham City Council’s priority wards are: Washwood Heath, Sparkbrook, Nechells, Lozells & East Handsworth, Soho, Aston and Bordesley Green.

**BMHT contractors include Lovell, Jessup, Mansell, Kier, Galliford Try and KeepMoat.


Editors’ notes

  • Britain faces a huge engineering skills shortage. British businesses will need 87,000 graduate engineers every year for the next ten years, but it only currently produces 51,000 each year.
  • Of the current rail workforce, 50% are semi-skilled while only 16% are higher level technicians or professional engineers.
  • 20% of rail engineers are over 55 years and will retire in the next 10 years, while only 4% of rail engineers are women – the lowest rate in Europe.
  • Building Birmingham Scholarship provides access to a wide range of education, employment and training opportunities for young people between 16 and 24 years of age, particularly from disadvantaged backgrounds, wishing to pursue a career in the construction and built environment sector.
  • The National College for High Speed Rail is being developed in partnership with the Department of Business Innovation and Skills (BIS), Department for Transport, Birmingham City Council, Doncaster Council and HS2 Ltd.
  • The Government gave the go-ahead for a High Speed Rail network, called High Speed Two (HS2) on 10 January 2012. HS2 will be a Y-shaped rail network providing direct, high speed rail links between London and Birmingham and on to Manchester and Leeds. HS2 will improve capacity across Britain’s rail network, shorten journey times between major cities, boost the economy and create thousands of jobs.


Media contacts

Claire Barker, Communications Manager, Marketing Birmingham, 0121 202 5055 / 07918 178220 /