Leaders have called for a High Speed Rail Centre of Excellence to be built in the West Midlands bringing thousands of skilled jobs and apprenticeships to the region.
Sir Albert Bore, Leader of Birmingham City Council, Ken Meeson, Leader of Solihull Council, Geoff Inskip, chief executive of Centro and Birmingham Chamber’s chief executive Jerry Blackett believe the Centre of Excellence would develop skills in construction and mechanical and electrical engineering across the rail sector.
The call came as HS2 Ltd chief executive Alison Munro told leaders the region was well-placed to take advantage of its location at the heart of the high speed rail network.
Ms Munro said HS2 Ltd would be working with schools and universities across the West Midlands to ensure school leavers and graduates could bring the right skills to the project.
Sir Albert Bore, Leader of Birmingham City Council, thanked HS2 Ltd for their support in developing the Birmingham Baccalaureate – a new specially designed qualification to ensure school leavers have the right skills for the job market.
“We’ve listened to businesses and we’ll be working with HS2 Ltd to make sure our school leavers and graduates are equipped for the workplace,” he said.
“We have a tremendous opportunity here to develop skills and deliver jobs right across our region. Birmingham and the West Midlands are at the heart of HS2. We must be ambitious and build on the knowledge and skills we already possess as a region to become world-class.”
Centro chief executive, Geoff Inskip, said: “We must take advantage of our location on the high speed rail network and build a Centre of Excellence for generations to come right here in the West Midlands.”
HS2 Ltd’s Board met for the first time outside London for their July 18 meeting in Birmingham and also toured proposed station sites in Moor Street in Birmingham city centre and at Birmingham Interchange.
The call follows HS2 Ltd’s plans for engineering jobs and apprenticeships, with over 2,000 apprentices set to be employed in construction related jobs on HS2 – nearly five times more than either Crossrail or the Olympics.
Last week Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin launched the period of public consultation on the proposed route from the West Midlands to Manchester and Leeds and called on city leaders from the biggest economic powerhouses outside of London to ensure maximum economic benefits – including job creation and skills development – are generated by HS2.
Research by Go-HS2 reveals that HS2 will deliver 22,000 jobs and £1.5bn per year to the region with Phase One of HS2 (London to Birmingham).