HS2 Proactively Tackles Labour Skills Shortages for Successful Project Completion

Posted on 21 April 2021

HS2 Takes Proactive Measures to Address Skills Shortages and Ensure Successful Project Completion

HS2, the company responsible for the high-speed rail project in the UK, is actively working to assess and address potential skills shortages to guarantee the successful completion of the ambitious project. In response to a parliamentary question, HS2 minister Andrew Stephenson confirmed that comprehensive data evaluating the "potential mismatches" between labour and skills requirements and their availability would be published later this year. This commitment to transparency and accountability underscores the company's dedication to securing the necessary skills and labour for building HS2 while also leaving a lasting legacy of a highly skilled and diverse workforce.

To guide its efforts, HS2 established a robust Skills, Employment, and Education strategy in 2018. This strategic framework is grounded in the analysis of labour and skills forecasting data, which serves to identify any disparities between HS2's labour and skills requirements and the availability of suitable workers. The upcoming publication of forecast data in the summer will provide updated and more accurate projections of labour and skills demand and supply, taking into account the project's progress and changes within the broader construction sector.

HS2 is committed to sharing a summary outlining its response to the identified mismatches between labour and skills requirements. This initiative is driven by the growing concerns surrounding potential challenges for the skilled workforce. A recent survey conducted by recruitment specialist Search Consultancy revealed that a significant majority of construction and engineering firms harbour serious concerns about the shortage of skilled workers. Similar worries have also been raised about the workforce involved in the Crossrail project, as concerns mount regarding strained resources and the potential migration of engineers to work on HS2 before Crossrail's completion.

Recognising the broader skills shortage across the UK, Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled several schemes in the Spring Budget aimed at addressing this pressing issue. These initiatives include increased incentives designed to encourage firms to take on apprentices, nurturing the growth of a skilled workforce. Furthermore, in January 2021, the Department for Transport commissioned the National Skills Academy for Rail to provide comprehensive data on skills shortages across various transportation modes. Through collaborative efforts involving industry partners, stakeholders, government departments, and public bodies (including HS2 Ltd), the Department for Transport is actively working to identify effective mitigations and tackle the challenges confronting the transport industry and the wider economy.

By proactively reassessing skills shortages and implementing targeted measures, HS2 Ltd is firmly committed to ensuring that the necessary workforce and expertise are readily available to deliver the HS2 project successfully. This unwavering dedication to bridging skills gaps not only contributes to the project's overall success but also fosters the development of a highly skilled and adaptable workforce poised to meet the challenges of the future.

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