FE providers in HS2 college plans

At least 10 FE and skills sector providers could be involved with the new National College for High Speed Rail, FE Week can reveal.

The government announced on Wednesday (October 1) that the new college, set to open in 2017, would be located across two sites in Doncaster and Birmingham, with its HQ in the West Midlands.

It will provide specialist level four and above vocational training for engineers set to work on the £50bn High Speed 2 (HS2) link from Birmingham to London by 2026.

The winning bids were submitted by consortiums led by the local enterprise partnerships (Leps).

A spokesperson for Greater Birmingham and Solihull Lep said eight FE colleges in the Midlands, which all supported the bid to bring the HS2 college to the city, would be involved.

It is understood the lead provider will be the University of Birmingham, while the FE colleges involved in the bid to bring the HS2 college to Birmingham were Bournville College, Kidderminster College, Burton and South Derbyshire College, Birmingham Metropolitan College, Heart of Worcestershire College, Solihull College, South and City College Birmingham and South Staffordshire College. University College Birmingham was also involved in the bid.

Skills Funding Agency prime contractor Carillion also contributed to the bid and could provide training at the new campus.

South and City College Birmingham principal Mike Hopkins said: “South and City College Birmingham is part of the consortium of colleges [that helped bid for the HS2 college] and we will continue to provide our support.”

Shaun Hindle, senior director for employment and skills at Solihull College, said: “We are delighted to hear that an HS2 college will be based in Birmingham; with the City being the country’s second largest which supports vital industry, it makes Birmingham the ideal location.”

He added: “As a key provider of apprenticeships to young people across Solihull and Birmingham, we see this decision as an immense opportunity to bridge the skills gap in the Midlands and along with other colleges, to continue making a valued contribution to the local and wider economy.”

Andy Dobson, principal of Kidderminster College, said: “As a member of the consortium which bid for HS2, we are delighted it is coming to Birmingham. We have a rich history of engineering talent in the region and we need to equip future generations with the skills needed to build and run our new rail system. We look forward to helping the project now becoming a reality.”

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Sheffield City Region Lep identified Doncaster College as an FE and skills sector contributor to its HS2 college bid — but said it was too early to say which providers would operate at its site.

Doncaster College principal George Trow said: “Doncaster College has been involved from the outset of the proposal and presented as a member in the bid team.

“We work with the rail partnership companies in Doncaster delivering engineering training and apprenticeships and will continue to work in partnership with the new rail college.”

A spokesperson for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said cost estimates for both campuses could not be provided as “the scope and scale of the college is still being developed”.