West Midlands Combined Authority has announced that they are to fill thousands of jobs in the region’s transport industry, following the publishing of a new report.
Thanks to research that was commissioned by Transport for West Midlands, the region will need to find around 60,000 new skilled workers to help with the design, building and operation of rail, road, bus and tram networks over the next 15 years.
Whilst the report by the National Skills Academy points out the large number of opportunities on offer for those who have the right training, it also serves to highlight the scale of the challenge ahead, when trying to close the region’s existing transport skills gap.
In order to combat the skills shortage, Transport for West Midlands has launched a new Transport Skills Programme that will work alongside the transport industry and training providers. This will ensure that young people in the region have access t the skills needed to gain work in the sector that is well-paid and secure. With key projects in the area, such as HS2 and Transport for West Midlands’ five-year infrastructure investment programme, there is set to be unprecedented demand for skilled workers. Careers in the industry will be varied, with software designers, engineers, digital specialists, transport planning and design, construction and maintenance employees all needed.
Another driving force for new workers being required is that the transport industry has an ageing workforce. Of the 41,783 workers that make up the regions rail, road and bus sectors, 35% off them are over the age of 50 and nearing retirement. Combining this with the fact that only 13% of workers are under the age of 30, there are significant opportunities for younger people in the region.
Mayor of the West Midlands and Chair of the West Midlands Combined Authority, Andy Street, said:
“A key part of my mayoral mission is to ensure that young people right across our region can access high quality and well paid job opportunities. The sheer scale of transport infrastructure projects underway here is quite remarkable and will unlock new employment avenues for local residents.
“Whether it’s HS2 – under construction and already employing 7,000 people – or the unprecedented investment int our transport system over the next decade – including new railway stations, tram lines, bus services and cycle routes – there is a lot to get involved with.
“Our region has already made great progress in providing pathways into the transport workforce – for example through the Rail Training Centre at the City of Wolverhampton College and the electric vehicle training centre in Walsall. Now this new Transport Skills Academy will enable us, alongside our partners in industry, to develop even more vital training schemes that help us to continue to make the most of our investment in Transport.”
If the programme is successful it could be worth more than £1.7 billion in social value, with an estimated 60,000 jobs being created by 2035.
West Midlands Combined Authority’s portfolio holder for transport and Birmingham City Council’s Leader, Councillor Ian Ward, said:
“As well as the traditional roles in transport planning, design and construction, TfWM and its partners are also working on cutting edge technology developing the low-carbon transport systems of the future.
“This includes electric battery technology, autonomous cars, smart ticketing systems and new transport modes like very light rail. These and further innovations could require jobs which don’t even exist yet.
“So it is clear we will need a highly skilled and adaptable workforce to make the most of these opportunities and position the region as the home of the green transport revolution. And our Transport Skills Academy wills set out to do just that.”