David Ralph, the Chief Executive of D2N2, the Local Enterprise Partnership for Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, has welcomed news the HS2 high-speed rail project is to have a dedicated further education college to train engineers.
And he has called on Government to ensure the dedicated facility is situated in the D2N2 area.
Students would be trained in the skills needed to construct the railway, with the college set to open in 2017. It would be England’s first new further education college for 20 years.
The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said the college would have “cutting-edge technology and use state-of-the-art equipment” to provide training courses for the specific needs of the rail project, which is expected to generate more than 2,000 apprenticeships.
There are no details yet of where the college would be located or its funding.
David Ralph said: “It is welcome and excellent news to know that the HS2 high-speed rail project is to have a dedicated further education college to train engineers.
“D2N2 has a really strong case to host the Academy. We have the HS2 line; the East Midland Hub station; the maintenance depot at Staveley; the skills and the institutions to deliver them; the companies and the supply chain. Derby has a long heritage and expertise of the railway industry and Nottingham has gained much recent knowledge from the experience of implementing the tram network. This means our area is the natural place to site such a dedicated facility to help students develop the skills required to construct this much-needed infrastructure.
“Indeed in December, we submitted to Government the first draft of our Strategic Economic Plan in which we specifically state the need for the HS2 Skills Academy to be situated in our area. The D2N2 economy, its businesses and expertise, will be crucial to the success of HS2 and future economic growth.
“We have proposed that an HS2 Skills Academy be established within the area to ensure a sufficient supply of appropriately-skilled workers is available as project implementation begins and we will be doing everything we possibly can to ensure this facility is located in the D2N2 region.”
Chris Hobson, Head of Information and Representation at the Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire Chambers of Commerce (DNLCC), said: “The Chamber welcomes the news that Government is backing the creation of a dedicated HS2 skills academy to ensure the workforce is equipped with the high level of skills required to carry out this essential piece of transport infrastructure development.
“Although a decision on its location has yet to be announced, the Chamber would strongly urge the Department of Transport to locate this new facility in Derby, which has built a global reputation for excellence in rail manufacturing and is home to the largest cluster of rail and rail-related companies in Europe. Derby already has the business infrastructure and talent pool in place to make this initiative as successful as it can be.”