New Walsall College T-Level offers students unrivalled opportunity to work on HS2

Young people in the West Midlands will play a part in the delivery of High Speed Two, Britain’s brand-new low carbon, high speed railway, thanks to an innovative partnership between Walsall College and Balfour Beatty VINCI (BBV).

16-18-year olds who sign up for the new T-Level qualification in Construction – Design, Surveying and Planning, which starts at Walsall College this September, will get to spend 20% of their studies on an industry placement.

BBV, HS2’s joint venture construction partner for the West Midlands section of the railway, has confirmed that the students it hosts will get to work on Europe’s biggest infrastructure project – HS2.

The two-year programme will see students spend 315 hours, equivalent to 45 days, working on construction-focused assignments. BBV expects the students it hosts will play an active role on HS2; learning how major infrastructure schemes are developed, project management techniques as well as developing an understanding of environmental design engineering, Building Information Modelling and geospatial surveying.

Speaking at a Facebook Live session for prospective students and employers, Apprenticeships and Skills Minister, Gillian Keegan MP, gave her backing to the new technical qualification.

Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Apprenticeships and Skills, Gillian Keegan MP said:

“I am hugely excited about the potential that T Levels have to transform young people’s lives.

“These qualifications are based on the best international examples of technical education and co-designed with industry leaders. They will ensure that young people are learning the skills employers demand and enable them to build great careers or access higher technical education”.

HS2 set a commitment to upskilling the next generation and ensuring that the project leaves a lasting skills legacy when it launched its Skills, Employment and Education Strategy in 2018. That commitment is brought to life through its contractors and the thousands of businesses within its supply chain, who each sign up to invest in skills, training and education outcomes. This ensures HS2 will support at least 2,000 apprenticeships, provide two-year graduate training programmes and deliver Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) focused curricular activities in schools along the line of the railway as it extends north and south of the midlands.

Kate Myers, HS2’s Head of Skills and Employment said:

“We need over 30,000 people to support the delivery of HS2 and it’s crucial that we invest in upskilling young people to be at the heart of those opportunities.

“This is a once in a lifetime project that presents a genuine opportunity to make a difference. This innovative partnership between BBV and Walsall College will ensure that local people are at the heart of delivering HS2, which is already revitalising the West Midlands and supporting jobs, local businesses and economic growth”.

A workforce of over 8,000 will be employed by BBV to deliver its £5 billion main civil engineering contracts on HS2 and around 400 of those roles will be filled by apprentices and graduates.

Michael Dyke, Balfour Beatty VINCI Managing Director for HS2, said:

“With the construction and infrastructure industry poised to deliver some of the most ambitious schemes in the UK’s history, we must do more to attract our future workforce and bridge the significant skills shortage we are currently facing.

“Balfour Beatty VINCI is taking an active role to encourage new entrants to the industry; providing a wide range of work-experience opportunities and apprenticeship and graduate positions. Through our innovative partnership with HS2 and Walsall College, students will not only have the opportunity to work on one of Europe’s largest infrastructure projects but will see their work realised and enjoyed for many years”.

Jatinder Sharma OBE, Principal and CEO at Walsall College said:

“T Levels are bringing further education providers and employers closer together to fulfill the UK’s skills needs.

“These industry placements are an invaluable opportunity for our students to work with two key industry employers. Contributing to a major infrastructure project will greatly enhance their knowledge and capabilities. It also supports their progression on to university, a higher-level apprenticeship or further training”.