National College for High Speed Rail opens its doors in Birmingham

Students of a new high-speed rail college will benefit from the latest cutting-edge rail technology as they study to become the workforce of the future.  

The National College for High Speed Rail was unveiled by Paul Maynard MP, parliamentary under-secretary of state for rail, accessibility and HS2 for the first time today, making it the largest of five new national colleges created by the government to ensure British workers can learn world-class skills.    

Alongside a second campus in Doncaster, which opened on Monday 9 October, the new college will welcome 150 students across both sites in the 2017-18 academic year. At full capacity, the college can cater for 1,200 students a year.

The National College for High Speed Rail in Birmingham, 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 including HS2. It 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 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 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. 

Paul Maynard MP said: “The cutting-edge technology available to students at this college will be vital in training the skilled engineers of the future needed to build, manage and operate the railway. We are investing billions of pounds in providing more seats and more trains for passengers across the north and the midlands, and training people to get the skills that will help the government to deliver crucial infrastructure projects.”

Clair Mowbray, chief executive for the National College for High Speed Rail, said: “We’re extremely grateful to the government, Birmingham City Council, Greater Birmingham & Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership 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.”  

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 foundation degree. There are still some limited places available for courses beginning later this month.   

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 are also eligible for student loans, subject to application.   

Click here for further information on the National College for High Speed Rail.

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