Her Royal Highness Princess Anne, The Princess Royal, visited the National College for High Speed Rail in Doncaster on Friday (22 February), to show support for the college’s drive to boost skills and improve diversity, equality and inclusivity across Britain’s rail and engineering sectors.
The Princess Royal met with a group of learners and apprentices who are currently training at the college in preparation for the delivery of major national transport infrastructure projects including HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail.
Ahead of International Women’s Day which is celebrated on Friday 8 March, Princess Anne had the opportunity to hear about the college’s efforts to encourage more women into the sector. She met with several female apprentices who are currently undertaking roles across disciplines including civil engineering, track design and fleet management.
Clair Mowbray, chief executive of the National College for High Speed Rail, said: “It was a pleasure to introduce Princess Anne to some of our talented learners today. In order to encourage more women into the industry and improve the diversity balance, it’s essential that we have high profile female ambassadors like the Princess on board.
“That said, we are positively open to all and for the sector to solve its productivity puzzle and challenge the skills gap, we’re calling on more businesses and apprenticeship providers to come forward and work with the college. Our employer network is growing and our message to rail and engineering businesses of all scales is not to work in isolation on the issue of skills – come and talk to us and we can help find a solution for workforce training needs.”
The National College for High Speed Rail opened in Doncaster and Birmingham at the end of 2017 and is currently on track to reach its learner target of 396 learners by the end of this academic year.
The College forecasts that it will reach full learner capacity within five years of opening when there will be over 1,000 new learners enrolling each year. It is meeting employers’ needs with a flexible approach to recruiting apprentices throughout the year. Full time courses for September 2019 are currently filling up while the college continues to take on apprentices as the industry upskills its existing workforce and creates new vacancies.