In response to the Government’s consultation on the location of a new HS2 college, West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA) member and Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Chair Roger Marsh met with key regional businesses and rail industry supply chain employers today.
Hosting the meeting aimed at championing the Leeds City Region as an ideal site for the new HS2 college, Mr Marsh said, “We are committed to optimising the potential that HS2 can offer the Leeds City Region and this goes much further than just the enhanced transport links.
“We already have a well- established skills network across the region, and it is vital that all partners, both public and private sector, join forces to champion the potential of the region.”
The proposed college will concentrate on delivering the high level skills needed for high speed rail and other major engineering projects of the future, including HS2.
Today’s event will focus on the Leeds City Region’s strong railway heritage, specialist rail expertise at the Universities of Huddersfield and York, Leeds’ unique College of Building’s excellent links with civil engineering contractors and its many rail, civil engineering and design engineering businesses that could benefit from and contribute to the development of HS2.
When plans for the new college were announced in January, Cllr James Lewis who is Chairman of the new West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s Transport Committee said, “The Leeds City Region Skills Network is made up of 14 Further Education Colleges, nine Higher Education Institutions and private & voluntary sector skills providers from across Leeds City Region working together to meet the needs of employers and the city region economy, so would be well placed to work with HS2 on the development of the new college.
“Establishing this college teaching the skills that will be required in the design, development and construction of HS2 represents a great opportunity for young people studying in West Yorkshire's local schools and colleges today to develop careers developing the rail network of tomorrow.”
Research has shown that HS2 could deliver 13,200 jobs in the Leeds City Region and could boost productivity in West Yorkshire by £1bn per year within five years of opening. Joining up the high-speed and existing lines for additional passengers and freight trains could generate an additional £300m to £800m of benefits for the Leeds and Sheffield City Regions.
The location of the new HS2 college will partly depend upon the level of support from industry supply chain employers. With more people employed in rail-related industries in the Leeds City Region than anywhere else in the North, the LEP is keen to use this event to secure the support of key companies and their supply chains.
Julie Carrier, Head of Rail at WSP which is based in the region said, “Our industry has something of an image problem - young people don’t always realise the amazing careers they could have in rail and yet WSP teams are behind some of the most exciting and transformative rail network projects in the world.
“It is crucial that, collectively, we use the investment in the high speed rail network to develop a highly skilled construction and railway engineering workforce which is why this college is so important.”
Read more about this event at the Leeds City Region Partnership website (new window).