HS2 to identify skills shortages that could hamper project completion

Posted on 21 April 2021

​HS2 Ltd will reassess potential skills shortages that may need plugged to ensure the project is completed.

In response to a written parliamentary question, HS2 minister Andrew Stephenson said that further data assessing “potential mismatches” between labour and skills requirements and their availability would be published later this year.

He highlighted that HS2 Ltd developed aSkills, Employment and Educationstrategy in 2018, which focuses on securing the skills and labour required to build HS2 and leaving a legacy of a highly-skilled and diverse workforce.

“Underlying this strategy are labour and skills forecasting data and analysis which provide an assessment of potential mismatches between HS2 labour and skills requirements and their availability,” he said. “Reforecast data is expected to be published later this year.”

HS2 Ltd said it expects to publish the revised document in the summer, with forecasts of labour and skills demand and supply to be updated to reflect the maturity of the programme and changes to labour demand from both the programme and the economy-wide construction sector.

HS2 Ltd will also publish a summary outlining its response to address any potential mismatches between HS2 labour and skills requirements and their availability.

It comes after amid growing fears over the potential future challenges for the skilled workforce.

Earlier this month, a survey by recruitment specialist Search Consultancy found thatthe large majority of construction and engineering firms have reported serious concerns about a lack of skilled workers.

Meanwhile,concerns that Crossrail’s workforce is over-stretched and under-resourced were raised by the project’s representative Jacobsin January and by theLondon Assembly.

Crossrail chief executive Mark Wild also admitted that there was a big risk that engineers working on Crossrail could leave to work on HS2 before the London railway project is complete.

There is also increasing concern thatchanges to tax regulation could lead to a lack of assurance workers to complete outstanding work.

Consequently, Jacobs has urged Crossrail bosses to push back its schedule to ease the “intense pressure” on those assurance workers. 

To tackle the UK's skills shortage chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled a series of schemes in the Spring Budget, includingincreasing incentives to encourage firms to take on apprentices.

The Department for Transport (DfT) also commissioned the National Skills Academy for Rail in January 2021 to provide data on skills shortages across transport modes.

Skills shortages were identified in infrastructure construction, rail, freight and logistics, and the DfT is now working, in collaboration with industry partners, stakeholders, other government departments and public bodies (including HS2 Ltd), to identify mitigations and ensure it addresses the challenges facing both the transport industry and the wider economy.

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