HS2 workforce closes in on 30,000 milestone

Almost 30,000 people are now onboard supporting HS2's construction.

HS2 says its workforce has almost hit the 30,000 mark. 

The latest update shows more than 2,300 people joined its ranks in the last three months, with the rapid pace of construction seeing more people working at its stations, viaducts, bridges and embankments.

HS2’s workforce is now busy at 350 sites from the South-west to the North-west.

The first tunnelling breakthrough at Long Itchington in Warwickshire, the appointment of the Interchange Station construction partner and the launch of the first giant tunnelling machine in London, are just some of the construction highlights that have fuelled workforce growth since the summer.

In addition, 217 people who were out of work were also supported into jobs, taking the total number of formerly unemployed now working on HS2 to just under 2,500.

HS2’s construction partners work with employment support services and local authorities along the route of the railway to ensure those most in need can access fast-track training programmes that lead to paid work trials and employment in a matter of weeks.

Mark Thurston, CEO at HS2, said: “HS2 is delivering growth for the UK economy today. Our contract awards are helping small businesses across the UK to grow and sustain their workforces, and nearly 30,000 people are benefitting from skilled jobs with a long-term future. 

“By supporting apprentices and the unemployed into meaningful careers on HS2 we’re creating the next generation of engineers and construction workers, a trend that will continue as our construction programme gathers momentum going North.”

A further 210 UK businesses joined HS2’s supply chain this quarter, taking the current number of unique suppliers to 2,760 across the UK – 61% of those actively engaged in the supply chain are SMEs.

The drive to upskill the next generation also continued, with 45 new apprentice starts recorded in quarter two, putting HS2 firmly on track to reach its target of creating 2,000 new apprentice starts.

Work is also underway in the West Midlands to help more unemployed people build a new career with HS2. 

A partnership between HS2’s West Midlands construction partner, Balfour Beatty VINCI (BBV), and Walsall Works is helping unemployed Walsall residents to access training, develop new skills and start building a future with HS2.

The work trial scheme is open to Walsall residents aged 25 and over, who are currently out of work and want to earn, learn and gain valuable work experience ahead of progressing into permanent employment. 

The placements are ideally suited to those looking for office-based roles where they will get to work as part of a wider team.

Eligible candidates will be offered an eight-week paid placement with BBV, with opportunities available in their HR, facilities, procurement and finance teams. 

The placements will allow candidates to get a feel for what it’s like to work as part of a team. Those that progress and impress will be given the opportunity to extend their placement and ultimately transfer into full-time employment.

Julie Venn Morton, senior legacy manager at HS2, said: “We’re delighted to join forces with our job brokerage partner, Walsall Works, who share our drive to ensure that local residents benefit from career opportunities on HS2.

“Our paid placement programmes have been hugely successful in supporting people of all ages and backgrounds back into the world of work, with promising career prospects for those that successfully complete their placement. I'm confident this new partnership with Walsall Works will be equally successful.” 

Across the West Midlands, more than 600 people who were out of work now have full-time jobs on HS2. 

Balfour Beatty VINCI wants to see more people from Walsall stepping forward to join its workforce, which is expected to peak at around 7,000 as its construction programme from Warwickshire to Staffordshire progresses.

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