Former professional footballer Liam Wakefield has become the latest signing for the brand new National College for High Speed Rail in Doncaster.
The former Doncaster Rovers player, 23, and current right-back for Boston United has given up playing the game full-time so that he can focus his talents on learning the world class engineering skills that will be needed to design and build the UK’s new high-speed rail network and future infrastructure projects.
Liam’s signing at the National College for High Speed Rail – the largest of five new National Colleges created by the Government – coincides with Northern Powerhouse Skills Week, which work being done across the region to foster talent and boost the skills of people who live and work in the North.
The National College for High Speed Rail opened on Carolina Way in Doncaster earlier this month and 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. 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.
Liam is studying for a certificate of higher education (Cert HE) in High Speed Rail and Infrastructure at the College. The level 4 qualification runs for one year as a full-time course and once complete, he will have the chance to progress on to a Higher Technical Diploma or a Foundation Degree. He is looking to work on the electrical side of railway engineering and is currently undergoing interviews with local rail businesses to potentially begin work as an apprentice whilst studying at the college.
After recently buying a house in Rossington, Doncaster, Liam said: “I’ve seen the new college under construction every day over the past year, whilst on my way to training. The building took my interest and when I came here and saw it I knew I had to be part of it.
“The training I’m doing here is giving me a route towards a long-term career in engineering and hopefully I’ll be able to contribute my skills to a huge national infrastructure project such as HS2. The good news is that I can also fit in the football on a part-time basis.
“Being a Doncaster lad, I’m really proud to have this facility on my doorstep. I’ve seen how the town has developed over the past few years and I know all about its railway history so having the National College for High Speed Rail here is only going to make things better and improve the place even more.
“I’ve loved my career in football but now I want to focus my efforts on having a long-term, well-paid career helping to build the next generation of rail infrastructure that Britain needs.”
Clair Mowbray, chief executive of the National College for High Speed Rail, said: “Liam’s pride in his hometown is immediately apparent and to have him see the potential career opportunities that he can now access from his doorstep, is a real coup for both the college and Doncaster. It’s crucial to get more young people involved in rail and engineering so that this sector can thrive both locally and nationally. While there is currently a skills gap, the opportunities across the north are growing and with exciting plans in the pipeline with high speed rail, now is the perfect time to get on board.”
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 (at both Doncaster and Birmingham). Bursaries to help with the cost of study are available for those from disadvantaged backgrounds.