Full speed ahead for Birmingham’s National College for High Speed Rail

Transport Secretary of State, Chris Grayling, visited Birmingham’s National College for High Speed Rail (NCHSR) today (5th October) to oversee completion of the site’s flat roof structure – a major construction milestone in the college’s ambitious development plans.

The flagship College, based in Birmingham’s Science Park, is another great coup for the city which is already powering ahead in its preparations for the arrival of HS2.  Last month Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP) and Birmingham City Council (BCC) announced almost £1billion of investment to redevelop the area around Curzon Street station, which HS2 trains will serve, providing thousands more jobs, homes and commercial opportunities.

L-R Transport Secretary Chris Grayling, Clair Mowbray (CEO, NCHSR), Cllr John Clancy (Leader of Birmingham City Council) and Anita Bhalla (GBSLEP Board member) visit the site of the National College for High Speed Rail in Birmingham.

L-R Transport Secretary Chris Grayling, Clair Mowbray (CEO, NCHSR), Cllr John Clancy (Leader of Birmingham City Council) and Anita Bhalla (GBSLEP Board member) visit the site of the National College for High Speed Rail in Birmingham.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said:

“HS2 will be the backbone of our national rail network and help us build an economy that works for all. The significant benefits of the scheme will not just be felt from when the trains start running. Work on the new College sites shows the transformational effect that HS2 is already having, creating jobs and supporting economic growth. Around 25,000 jobs and 2,000 apprenticeships will be generated during construction of HS2, which is due to begin next year.

“The UK is highly regarded for its engineering capabilities but we need to do more to attract new talent to the sector as well as improving the skills of the current workforce. That is why the Government launched a transport skills strategy earlier this year committing us to create 30,000 apprenticeships across roads and rail by 2020. The National College for High Speed Rail is a vital part of these plans as it will provide the cutting-edge skills we need to deliver HS2 and other world-beating infrastructure.”

Under the leadership of new CEO, Clair Mowbray, the NCHSR is now putting the finishing touches to its curriculum and preparing to welcome its first intake of students in September 2017.

The prospect of studying at the NCHSR is already creating a buzz amongst engineering students in the West Midlands. Jada Bailey-Webber who lives in Birmingham and has already registered her interest in enrolling at the College met the Secretary of State at the ceremony.

Jada Bailey-Webber said:

“I’m currently doing a Rail Engineering transition course at Aston University Engineering Academy which involves trackside learning and working with businesses, to help prepare me to attend the National College for High Speed Rail. Using my current Engineering qualifications, studying further at the college and working alongside businesses to get hands on work experience will help prepare me for my future career.”

Before opening its doors, the college is generating opportunities for young people and local businesses. Three full time apprentices are helping build the site and Wilmott Dixon has 12 local businesses on its supply chain. The construction of HS2 will mirror this approach, with a firm commitment to generate at least 2,000 apprenticeship opportunities and ensure businesses across the UK benefit from procurement contracts.

Cllr John Clancy, Leader of Birmingham City Council, said:

“HS2 is already a game-changer that is driving economic growth in the region, and the development of a new National College for High Speed Rail in the heart of the city is another example of the long-term benefits we are realising.

“We recognise the galvanising effect that HS2 is having on the regeneration of Birmingham and believe confirmation of the Phase 2b route from Government later this autumn will provide further assurance and confidence to businesses and investors across the region.”

The new college, which is just minutes away from the Grade I listed Curzon Street station, will play a vital role in addressing skills shortages in the engineering sector, whilst creating pathways into learning and employment for local people in the High Speed Rail industry. Its innovative curriculum will focus on upskilling the region’s current workforce and attracting a new generation of construction workers and engineers onto courses linked to the varied and exciting roles the UK’s new High Speed Rail network will create.

Supported by Birmingham City Council, Doncaster Council and the Local Enterprise Partnerships for both areas, the Birmingham college and its sister site in Doncaster are the first major construction projects aligned to the High Speed Rail industry, a clear indicator of the progress the  project is making.

Prospective students interested in finding out more about the college, and the type of courses it will offer, can now register their interest via the newly launched website www.nchsr.ac.uk.