Recruitment Hubs will help more unemployed people into work on HS2

Millie Bayliss pictured overlooking HS2's Curzon Street construction site in Birmingham

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has joined forces with HS2 to invest in three new dedicated Recruitment Hubs for the project in the West Midlands.

They will aim to capitalise on continuing employment opportunities generated by the high-speed railway which is being built between the West Midlands and London.

It comes as new figures show 4,020 people who were unemployed for 26 weeks or more have gone on to secure jobs on Britain’s new railway. 

With new stations in Birmingham and Solihull, the network control centre and depot in Washwood Heath, and the HQ for HS2 Ltd in Birmingham city centre, the West Midlands has benefitted from recruitment opportunities since early works began on the new rail network in 2017.

Over a third of the entire workforce helping to deliver HS2 are based at worksites in the West Midlands, and thousands more jobs are still to be created locally as work to build Curzon Street Station, Interchange Station and the Washwood Heath campus gathers momentum in 2024.

HS2’s construction partner for Interchange Station, Laing O’Rourke, has confirmed it will need up to 1,000 people to deliver the project, while Mace Dragados, building Curzon Street, estimates more than 1,000 jobs – including an estimated 150 new entrant roles, including apprenticeship positions and opportunities earmarked for unemployed people.

Given the scale of opportunity, the new HS2 Recruitment Hubs are co-located within the Washwood Heath, Birmingham Summer Row and Chelmsley Wood Job Centres - close to the three key sites where HS2 will be bolstering its workforce. 

The hubs will be used to advertise new jobs on the HS2 project and provide prospective candidates with the opportunity to meet face to face with recruiters.

In the West Midlands, 1,414 formerly unemployed people have now benefitted from training and employment initiatives that have helped them to kickstart new careers, and 499 have benefitted from the 1,432 apprenticeships that HS2 has so far created – putting its overall target to create 2,000 apprenticeships well within reach.

Natalie Penrose, HS2’s head of legacy, said: “HS2 is all about changing lives and creating new opportunities and years before the first trains arrive in the region, it’s evident what a difference this project is making.  

“There are lots of exciting milestones on the horizon, and we’re focused on ensuring that even more people who are out of work benefit from the opportunities ahead.”

Nineteen-year-old Millie Bayliss from Kingstanding  has been named as the 4,000th unemployed person to secure a job on HS2. 

Having made the tough decision not to go to university, she was out of work for eight months.

She heard about the opportunity to work on HS2 after former school colleagues and family members recommendations. Within just three weeks of applying, she was welcomed into the team.

She joined HS2’s construction partner for the region, Balfour Beatty VINCI (BBV), as facilities assistant but in just six months, she secured a promotion and progressed into a new role as data support analyst.

She now works alongside a team of highly skilled engineers to update and maintain 4D models of BBV’s intricate engineering works, ensuring records are maintained and all works are recorded in accordance with safety and environmental standards.

The data support analyst at BBV said: “Joining HS2 has been a life-changing experience for me as I’ve found my passion and have been welcomed into the construction industry.

“Working in Balfour Beatty VINCI has allowed me to progress to the next stage of my career within just six months, and with the exciting projects and opportunities ahead, I couldn't imagine a better place to build my career, learn and grow."

Click here to hear more about Millie Bayliss' story. 

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