More than 30,000 people are now employed supporting the construction of HS2, a new record high.
The boost in employment reflects the rapid progress which was made in the summer months. Three bridge moves were completed in the space of just one month in the Midlands.
HS2 has a long-term commitment to investing in apprenticeships, with 81 new apprentice starts recorded between July and September. That means that the number of new apprentice starts has now reached 1,380 since Royal Assent was given to the HS2 bill. Tackling unemployment is also in sharp focus at HS2, helping to create a skilled workforce for the future. In the last quarter, 298 out of work people benefitted from bespoke training programmes which, in turn, led to new careers on the project. The number of previously unemployed people working on HS2 has reached 3,826.
One success story relates to Ben Bacon, 21, from Birmingham. He recently started a tunnelling operative apprenticeship on HS2 with Balfour Beatty VINCI (BBV) having been in and out of jobs since Covid. His most recent job was working in a warehouse but, because there was not enough work, he was laid off.
UK businesses in HS2's supply chain are also benefitting from the construction work. In the last quarter 144 more companies became involved, taking the number of UK firms supplying goods, services and materials to HS2 up to 3,236.
Natalie Penrose, HS2's Head of Legacy said: “We made a cast iron commitment to ensuring HS2's construction would support thousands of young people and the unemployed into meaningful careers. Three years into our heavy civils works, we've achieved just that.
“We remain focused on our goal of creating 2,000 apprenticeships and helping as many people as possible to upskill, retrain and start a new career.”
New tunnelling operative Ben Bacon added: “I was claiming job seekers' allowance and, because I have learning difficulties, I was put in touch with the Shaw Trust. They help match people to companies that offer additional support.
“BBV said they'd invest in training me up through an apprenticeship and ensure I had the support I needed. I was one of ten apprentices they took on and I've not looked back. I always wanted to work in construction but just couldn't find the right route in. Now I'm progressing through my training and really enjoying the camaraderie of being part of the tunnelling team. I want to continue progressing at the rate I am. In previous jobs I've just been a number. It's not like that here. They really care and, regardless of your background, you can succeed.”
Pascal Mercier, Managing Director of Telford-based civil and structural engineering specialist Freyssinet which has played a major role in HS2's bridge construction works in the West Midlands, said: “In the West Midlands alone, Freyssinet's involvement with HS2 includes technical assistance for the installation of bridge prestressing, the supply of 1,000+ bridge bearings and the creation of a training academy, plus three significant structure slides including the now award-winning Marston box slide over the M42 motorway.
“These projects alone will enable the creation of 100+ qualified jobs from trainee to project manager levels. We are proud to be part of this national endeavor to improve the transport network, which is already showing a positive socio-economic impact for the growth of opportunities and jobs in the region.”