The Balfour Beatty VINCI (BBV) Skills Academy at South and City College Birmingham’s Bordesley Green campus is gearing up to train more people, offering 3,000 local jobs across the next four years with BBV’s labour supply chain partners.
The BBV Skills Academy sits within one of Birmingham’s most deprived wards and first opened its doors in November 2021, with £1.1m backing from the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), as part of a dedicated effort to upskill local people ready for work on HS2.
The Skills Academy has already supported local people who were out of work into a job or onto further training to prepare for their chosen career path supporting HS2’s construction. It is the first of its kind in the region, with new plans in place to open more centres across the Midlands, making it easier for local people to gain the free training, accreditation and support they need to begin a career on HS2.
West Midlands Mayor, Andy Street, and Cllr Ian Courts, Chair of the HS2 Regional Enterprise Board, and leader of Solihull Council, welcomed the news on their visit to the academy on the 23rd of March.
About the course
At the Bordesley Green campus, students can gain hands on experience in plant machinery operation, traffic and fire marshalling, alongside nationally recognised accreditation from the Construction Skills Certification Scheme.
With no previous experience or skills required, students typically complete BBV’s specialist general operatives training programme in four to six weeks, enabling them to progress onto a paid work trial in their preferred construction career field. On successful completion of the trial, candidates are job matched to roles with BBV’s local labour providers, where they begin their career on HS2.
In a short space of time, the programme has supported people of all ages and backgrounds who were formerly unemployed into work.
René from Birmingham was unemployed for two years and was eager to find a job that provided long term security. Through HS2’s job brokerage partner model, which sees its contractors work closely with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and National Careers Service to support local people who are out of work into a job on HS2, René was referred to the Skills Academy and onto the general operatives training programme. He is now working full time at HS2’s construction site in Water Orton and is a vital part of the facilities and maintenance team.
“I feel really privileged to have secured this job and to be working on a project of this scale. The sheer size of HS2’s construction programme is phenomenal and it’s great that I get to work at different sites and see it all coming together.
“No two days are the same, which is what I really enjoy about my job, and I genuinely feel part of the team that is bringing HS2 to the region.”
Imran from Sparkbrook lost his job during the pandemic. He’d always been interested in construction, particularly engineering and design. When he was given a flyer advertising the Skills Academy, and its free construction training programme, he jumped at the chance and registered for an induction. Imran completed his training in just six weeks and is now working with BBV’s surveying team at the Washwood Heath construction site which will be home to HS2’s train depot and control centre.
“I am passionate and proud to be contributing to HS2’s construction. As a member of the surveying team, I play a vital role in ensuring that designs are delivered to the exact specification and with precision.
“I work closely with the designers and engineers and really take pride in my job. Knowing that I am playing a part in the successful delivery of this huge project is really rewarding.”
BBV estimates it will support around 7,000 jobs to deliver its programme of work on HS2 and in the West Midlands. It is estimated that the construction of HS2 will generate a constant labour demand of around 10,000 jobs from now until 2027/28.
Shilpi Akbar, Balfour Beatty VINCI’s Head of Skills, Employment and Education, said “at Balfour Beatty VINCI, we remain steadfast in our commitment to providing employment opportunities for people across the region. It is one of our top priorities and a core reason we launched our Skills Academy at South and City College last year.
The Head continued, “we want everyone – particularly those who are currently unemployed – to join us and realise the wide range of benefits that can be derived from a career in the construction and infrastructure industry; careers that will take shape and flourish while working to deliver Britain’s new high-speed railway.”