HS2 is celebrating another major milestone as it confirmed today (date) that over 3,000 people who were out of work have gone on to secure jobs on the project.

The drive to support the unemployed and upskill people ready for work with HS2, its construction partners, and the wider supply chain, has now led to 3,221 people launching a new career. This represents 10% of the workforce supporting HS2’s construction.

The geographical reach of HS2’s growing supply chain, which currently encompasses over 3,000 UK-based businesses, means people who were out of work in Wales, the North West, North East, Yorkshire and Humber and the South East are among those to have secured jobs helping to build Britain’s new railway.

Rail Minister Huw Merriman said:

“Helping more than 3,000 unemployed people into work is a huge achievement and it gives me great pride to see this revolutionary infrastructure project generating thousands of high-skilled jobs right across the UK.

“Not only is HS2 helping people develop new, exciting careers, but once delivered, it will transform rail journeys for generations to come by connecting our communities and offering a greener way of travelling.”

Through partnerships with local authorities, employment support services and charities, HS2 is working collaboratively to support people who want to work but need additional support or training.

Dedicated HS2 Skills Academies, run in partnership with local training providers and colleges, are delivering hundreds of free training programmes to help people build new skills. In tandem, HS2’s contractors provide work trials to give prospective candidates an insight into the industry, helping them to understand the career pathways and progression opportunities.

Training programmes have so far helped candidates to launch careers in ecology, planning, CAD and Design, engineering, plant operations and support functions including finance and community engagement.

Natalie Penrose, HS2’s Head of Legacy said:

“We’re exceptionally proud that we’ve helped over 3,000 unemployed people in England and Wales start a new career on HS2. Whether through apprenticeships, specialist fast-track training programmes, or referrals from our partner agencies, every candidate has gained new skills and vital work experience that will put them on track for a promising future.”

HS2’s construction has also played a pivotal role in helping University graduates to transition straight into careers aligned to their specialist subject areas. Over 250 students moved straight in to graduate-level roles with HS2’s construction partners after finishing their studies.

Among those to have launched a new career is 26-year-old Alisha Bhakta from Birmingham. Alisha graduated from De Montfort University Leicester with an Honours degree in English Language and Literature. She spent months trying to find a job that reflected her skillset or offered career progression opportunities.

The chance to start a work placement with Balfour Beatty VINCI (BBV), HS2’s construction partner for the West Midlands, sparked the career turnaround she was looking for. After completing her placement in 2020, Alisha immediately secured a permanent role in BBV’s document control team where she continued to impress. Now, three years on, she’s secured two promotions and transitioned into a role in information management, where she has line management responsibilities and the opportunity to expand her team.

Alisha said:

“I would never have considered that a career in construction might be for me, but that’s the great thing about a project of HS2’s size and scale, as there are so many opportunities.

“I work with a fantastic team at BBV and my confidence has grown. Moving out of my comfort zone and into something new has really helped me, and my career, to progress.”

Paul-Kelly Blazquez (PK) from Birmingham is also climbing the career ladder at BBV. After struggling to find work, he seized the opportunity to join BBV on a four-week work placement and hasn’t looked back.

PK was initially referred to BBV by Remploy, a local charity that supports people with disabilities and matches them to companies that can support their needs. Over the last five years, his career at BBV has flourished. PK completed a two-year business administration apprenticeship, was promoted into a new role in IT, and now leads his own team who are tasked with ensuring that all BBV’s online applications run smoothly.

PK said:

“I’ve received so much support from the team at BBV. They have helped me to develop a career doing what I love and working in IT.

“I’ve progressed from being a trainee, to an apprentice, right up to being a team leader, and now I get to support our new apprentices on their career journey.”

HS2’s construction partner Align JV is also helping unemployed people to launch new careers. As a Covid Graduate, Queenie Villarente had been struggling to find a role that suited her studies in Engineering. After many unsuccessful applications, she secured a space on Align’s pre-employment programme at the end of 2020. The programme specifically supported women who were looking to start a career in Construction, and  Queenie was introduced to a resourcing manager who helped her to secure a position working on HS2 as a Plant Clerk.

Since joining Align, Queenie’s career has developed rapidly. She is now operating as a TBM (Tunnel Boring Machine) Control Room and Data Engineer.

 Queenie, from Hillingdon said:

“My experience at Align so far has been amazing. The environment in which I work is definitely a good place for growth and development. It’s a place where my voice and opinion matters, with every day offering new challenges and opportunities. I work as part of a team which is very united, working together to achieve our goals. I am very happy to be part of what is a fantastic project.”

For more information about careers and opportunities on HS2, visit hs2.org.uk/careers