No HS2 college for Staffordshire

A bid for a specialist HS2 college to be based in Staffordshire has failed, it was revealed today.

How HS2 will look
How HS2 will look

It was hoped up to 2,000 apprentices could be based at the Beaconside campus in Stafford when Staffordshire University moves out in 2016.

The bid had also received the backing of the town’s biggest private employer Alstom, a world leader in high speed railway, with bosses hoping to win billion pound contracts as part of the controversial project.

But it was today announced that Birmingham, Derby, Doncaster and Manchester had been shortlisted.

The department for business, innovation and skills said the quality of responses was 'very high overall' with 'strong bids from many locations'.

All bids were assessed against a range of criteria including the size and availability of a suitable site, accessibility, and the potential to develop strong links with employers and providers already operating in the sector.

Skills and Enterprise Minister Matthew Hancock said: "I was extremely encouraged by the level of interest that has been shown by areas across the country in being part of meeting the high speed rail skills challenge.

"We received a number of very strong proposals, and not all can be taken forward to the final stage. However, it is clear that there is already some excellent partnership activity taking place between education providers and the rail industry across the country which is resulting in the delivery of some outstanding provision.

"For the college to be a success, it will need to bring together this expertise so we can achieve high quality skills provision in this important sector. We hope that all those locations that responded to the consultation will develop strong links with the main college site, so that as many learners as possible have access to the opportunities that HS2 and other rail engineering projects will create."

Transport Minister Baroness Kramer said: "HS2 is a vital part of our long-term economic plan, providing and safeguarding tens of thousands of jobs. The new college will equip the engineers of the future with the skills they need to secure these jobs and similar ones in the UK and across the globe.

"This new national college will operate with a ‘hub and spoke’ model, so there is huge potential for towns and cities across the country to benefit from the opportunities it will bring."

Representatives from Birmingham, Derby, Doncaster and Manchester have been invited to give presentations to an Advisory Group on June 27 in order for a final decision to be made in July.

Birmingham City Council leader Sir Albert Bore said: “Birmingham is at the centre of the high-speed network and has strong academic credentials, including a world-class university, and would be the perfect home for a specialist engineering college.

“We are already working with HS2, the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership and colleges and universities to make sure the city and wider region benefits from the high speed line with job and training opportunities. This means having the right workforce with the right skills at the right time and ensuring we create opportunities for local companies and people, particularly from areas of the city with the highest levels of unemployment.”

The High Speed Rail College is the first specialist National College to be developed and plans are in place to create more including in nuclear, coding and energy, in the coming years.