National College for High Speed Rail opens its doors in Doncaster

Justine Greening MP, Secretary of State for Education, has today (Monday, October 9th) officially launched The National College for High Speed Rail in Doncaster.

The new employer-led college has been opened during Rail Week 2017 and is the largest of five new national colleges created by Government to ensure British workers can learn world-class skills. The development has been supported by Doncaster Council who helped to secure funding for the scheme as well as being involved with the design and construction of the college.

With a second campus in Birmingham, the new college will train 150 learners across both sites during the 2017-18 academic year. At full capacity the college will train 1,200 learners a year.

Those interested in attending the college this year can now apply to be accepted on to two additional learner intakes in January and April 2018. Bursaries to help with the cost of study are available for those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

The National College for High Speed Rail is dedicated to solving the engineering, design, planning, manufacturing and construction skills gap that Britain faces as it looks to invest billions of pounds in modernising Britain’s rail network and wider transport infrastructure.

Over the next five years it is estimated that businesses in Britain will need 182,000 new engineers every year. Right now, it is falling short by 69,000 engineers a year. The rail industry in particular faces even further skills shortages, with one in five rail engineers currently aged over-55. With Britain’s move into high speed rail and HS2 alone set to create 25,000 new jobs including 2,000 apprenticeships; careers in this industry are set to become more and more sought after.

The campus on Carolina Way in Doncaster has been equipped with the very latest in cutting edge technology, including virtual reality training on board a Eurostar power car, an augmented reality classroom, and a dedicated BIM (building information modelling) cave.

The college will play a key role in generating the workforce of the future who will design and build the UK’s new high-speed rail network and future infrastructure projects. It has recently created the UK’s first Certificate of Higher Education (CHE) in High Speed Rail and Infrastructure, which people in Doncaster can now apply for.

Secretary of State for Education Justine Greening said: “It has been great to attend the official launch of the NCHSR. It’s part of how we are steadily transforming technical education in this country, training up a new generation of skilled young people and the existing workforce so that British business has the skills it needs and people have the opportunities they want – a win-win for everyone.

“We can only do this in partnership with employers – the NCHSR is just one great example of this. The impressive new building and training facilities are at the forefront of our ambitions to create a world class system of technical education.

“Doncaster is also one of the 12 Opportunity Areas that will benefit from a share of £72 million to raise attainment and aspirations. NCHSR is part of this work, making sure Doncaster’s local talent gets the opportunity to fulfil its potential and ensuring a prosperous future for the UK.”

Clair Mowbray, chief executive for the National College for High Speed Rail, said: “This is a momentous day at the National College for High Speed Rail, as we officially launch and welcome our first learners and apprentices into Doncaster.

“We’re extremely grateful to the Government, Doncaster Council, and all of the employers for the support the college has received to get to this stage. However, the work has only just begun; we want to make sure that we have a UK workforce that has the skills to not only deliver HS2 and other major infrastructure projects, but also become the pioneers of the UK’s new high speed rail industry. Now that the building is complete and fitted-out with the latest cutting-edge technology, our focus turns exclusively to our learners and building the capacity of the college to help solve Britain’s productivity crisis and engineering shortage.

“We are proud of having created a world-class rail skills centre in Doncaster and being a gateway for a hugely exciting and rewarding career building Europe’s largest infrastructure project. This town helped build the pioneering railways of Britain’s past and with your help we can now become a hub for building the pioneering railways of Britain’s future.”

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: “The college will play a vital role in training the thousands of skilled engineers needed to build HS2 and other projects right across the country.

“HS2 is crucial to ensure the Government delivers on its promise to spread wealth beyond London and the south-east. Up to 25,000 jobs and 2,000 apprenticeships will be created by Britain’s new railway. Another 3,000 people will operate HS2 and it is estimated that growth around new HS2 stations will create another 100,000 jobs.

“But as well as creating skilled jobs, apprenticeships and business opportunities, it will also mean real day-to-day improvements for people across the country by providing more seats and more trains for passengers across the north and the midlands.”

For those interested, the college is offering the chance to study for a Certificate of Higher Education in High Speed Rail and Infrastructure (Cert HE). This is a Level 4 qualification providing an introduction to the high speed rail sector and intended to set participants up for studying a Higher Technical Diploma or Foundation Degree. There are still some limited places available for courses beginning later this month, as well as for further intakes in January and May 2018.

For individuals whose finances may be a barrier to learning, either in terms of tuition fees, or maintenance costs whilst studying, support is available in the form of a bursary scheme. The college’s fees may also be eligible for student loans, subject to application.