College students tee up a new career on HS2

Josh Baker, Yusuf Naeem, Libby Parker and Nathan Fadiran O’Connor are beginning their T Level industry placements on HS2.

Students from the West Midlands are taking their first steps into the world of work as they begin T Level industry placements on HS2.

HS2’s construction partner Balfour Beatty VINCI (BBV) was quick to back the new qualifications when they were introduced in 2020. 

The two-year course combines study with an industry placement that accounts for 20% of students’ final grades. 

It is designed to better prepare young people for the world of work, with skills that align to specific industries and employer requirements.

Following the success of its partnership with Walsall College, which saw seven students progress straight onto degree-level apprenticeships supporting HS2’s construction, BBV has expanded its commitment this year by offering 33 placements to students at four Midlands-based colleges.

Pupils from Walsall, Thomas Telford in Wolverhampton, Dudley and Solihull colleges are beginning their first industry placement on HS2 - and this year’s programme will be extended to those studying IT as well as construction.

Julie Venn-Morton, HS2’s senior legacy manager for the West Midlands, said: “The success of HS2’s first T Level industry placement scheme, which resulted in just under half of the students securing a full-time job, has increased demand from both the colleges and young people wanting to partner with us.

“The chance to start building a career on HS2 as a teenager is without doubt a once in a lifetime opportunity, and we wish this year’s cohort every success with their studies and their industry placements.”

Among those joining the class of 2022 is 17-year-old Libby Parker from West Bromwich. She is studying for a T Level in Construction: Design, Surveying and Planning at Dudley College. 

Her placement is with Balfour Beatty VINCI’s design partnership with Mott Macdonald and Systra. 

She said: “I’ve always wanted to work in construction and this placement is a great way to learn about what kind of roles are available. 

“When this placement is over and I’ve completed my studies, my ambition is to secure a degree apprenticeship.”

Balfour Beatty VINCI’s dedicated skills, employment and education team brokered the college partnerships and is now working closely with Warwickshire College Group to expand the programme to welcome its students in the New Year.

The T Level programme forms part of BBV’s commitment to ensure that those who live close to the section of the railway that they are building, between Warwickshire and Staffordshire, are given every opportunity to benefit from training, employment and upskilling opportunities.

Shilpi Akbar, head of stakeholders and communities at Balfour Beatty VINCI said: “As HS2’s construction partner, we have a responsibility to make sure communities across the West Midlands feel the full benefit of this major project.

"These placements go some way to achieving that, by giving students the opportunity to gain valuable experience and equipping them with skills they couldn’t learn in the classroom. 

“We’re big supporters of the T Level programme, which we believe can inspire the next generation and act as a springboard for future careers in construction.”

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