Government sets apprenticeship quotas for rail and road contracts

A new transport skills strategy which outlines plans to create 30,000 apprenticeships in the road and rail sector by 2020 has been  welcomed by the engineering profession.

Crossrail chairman Terry Morgan was tasked with developing the new strategy to boost apprenticeship levels across the UK’s transportation sector, after he oversaw the delivery of over 500 new apprenticeships on the Crossrail project. 

The new strategy will see apprenticeship targets written into contracts delivering the government’s rail and road investment programme and measures to increase the number of new female entrants to engineering and technical apprenticeships in the transport sector.

Depending on the contract, this means suppliers will either create one apprenticeship for every £3 to £5 million of taxpayers’ money spent, or deliver a percentage increase in the number of apprentices employed each year during the lifetime of the contract. In such cases the aim is that the number of apprenticeships created each year will equal 2.5% of the workforce, so for every 200 people employed, five apprenticeships will be created each year.


Morgan (above), said: “As we have seen on Crossrail, by working with our suppliers we can help young people begin long and successful careers in an exciting and nationally important sector. To create a workforce capable of delivering the unprecedented number of transport projects in the pipeline, it is vital we increase the number of apprentices and attract more women into the industry.

“This skills strategy is a huge step in the right direction, but all of us, from parents and teachers to chief executives and industry leaders have a role to play to help the next generation grab the exciting opportunities on offer,” Morgan said.

Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) director general Nick Baveystock commented: “ICE welcomes the Government’s ambitious plans to deliver 30,000 new rail and road apprentices by 2020. Development of apprenticeships has traditionally been an area in which we have underinvested, so it is good to see progress. It is important that the apprenticeships meet an existing industry standard, such as ‘EngTech’, and are tailored to meet the technological challenges involved in delivering future transport projects.”

The ICE believes that the new strategy will see engineers employing higher level apprentices, which will further raise the skills level in the industry and drive up standards.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said that the government’s investment in infrastructure would create real opportunity for people across the UK by guaranteeing apprenticeships through contracts. “We are creating thousands of high quality careers across the country, many of which are cutting edge, highly technical and require Britain’s best minds.”

Speaking to Infrastructure Intelligence in January 2015,  Terry Morgan said he wanted to see an agreement around an agenda for upskilling the UK workforce to meet the new challenges of infrastructure, and a commitment from the supply chain to actually do something different. “That means at the same time we have to put in the physical assets to enable those who want to be trained to be able to be trained in the right way,” he said.

Download the Transport Infrastructure Skills Strategy here.   

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