National College of High Speed Rail takes major step towards completion

The National College for High Speed Rail took a significant step towards opening its doors this week following a visit by transport secretary Chris Grayling to see the high-tech training facility in Birmingham as it takes a step closer to completion.

Grayling was present at the topping out ceremony and the college remains on track to open to students in September 2017 when it will provide the specialist training, skills and qualifications required to build HS2 and future rail infrastructure projects.

Along with its sister site in Doncaster’s Lakeside, the college, based in Birmingham’s university district, is set to play a key role in ensuring Britain addresses the impending skills shortage in the engineering sector while upskilling the current workforce.

It’s estimated that British businesses will need approximately 87,000 graduate level engineers every year for the next ten years and 30 per cent of the current workforce will need further training to deliver the demands of the high speed Rail industry.

Visiting the site, transport secretary Chris Grayling said: “HS2 will be the backbone of our national rail network and help us build an economy that works for all. The significant benefits of the scheme will not just be felt from when the trains start running. Work on the new college sites shows the transformational effect that HS2 is already having, creating jobs and supporting economic growth. Around 25,000 jobs and 2,000 apprenticeships will be generated during construction of HS2, which is due to begin next year.

“The UK is highly regarded for its engineering capabilities but we need to do more to attract new talent to the sector as well as improving the skills of the current workforce. That is why the government launched a transport skills strategy earlier this year committing us to create 30,000 apprenticeships across roads and rail by 2020. The National College for High Speed Rail is a vital part of these plans as it will provide the cutting-edge skills we need to deliver HS2 and other world-beating infrastructure.”

Jada Bailey-Webber, who lives in Birmingham and has already registered her interest in enrolling at the college, met the secretary of state at the ceremony. “I’m currently doing a Rail Engineering transition course at Aston University Engineering Academy which involves trackside learning and working with businesses, helping to prepare me to attend the National College for High Speed Rail,” said Bailey-Webber. “Using my current engineering qualifications, studying further at the college and working alongside businesses to get hands on work experience will help prepare me for my future career,” she said.

Beth West, commercial director for HS2 said: “HS2 provides the opportunity to drive productivity and growth and increase the UK’s international competitiveness in high-tech engineering and construction. It demands new higher-level technical skills for jobs not yet in existence in the UK.  The college is vital to the delivery of high speed rail across Britain and so it’s extremely pleasing to see the great progress being made.”

As the College puts the finishing touches to its curricular programme and steps closer to welcoming its first intake of students, it has also confirmed the appointment of Clair Mowbray as its new CEO to take the project forward.

Terry Morgan, chair of the National College for High Speed Rail, said: “I’m extremely pleased to appoint Clair as the new chief executive of the National College for High Speed Rail.  Her commitment and passion for education and strategic development will be vital as we move closer to opening the College in September 2017.

“We are passionate about creating a state-of-the-art, employer-led college which will provide students with the skills they need to enjoy an exciting and well-paid career while providing employers with the highly-skilled workforce they need to deliver high speed rail in the UK and other major infrastructure projects.”

Birmingham City Council, Doncaster Council and the Local Enterprise Partnerships for both areas support the college and have carried out significant work in partnership with HS2 Ltd to help set up the structure of the college and develop the curriculum.


Businesses interested in upskilling employees and those considering a career path in the High Speed Rail industry can register their interest at the college’s newly launched website at

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