HS2 in Hansard 04/12/2014

HS2 Skills Academy
6. Karen Lumley (Redditch) (Con): What plans he
has to set up a High Speed 2 skills academy. [906433]
TheParliamentary Under-Secretary of State forTransport
(Mr Robert Goodwill): In September the Government
announced that the high-speed rail college will be co-located
in Birmingham and Doncaster.Work is now under way
with the local authorities concerned to get the college
up and running. Our goal is for students to be admitted
in the academic year 2017-18, which incidentally will
coincide with the start of construction.
Karen Lumley: We need more young people to take
up careers in engineering. What is my hon. Friend
doing to ensure that schools and colleges are aware of
the opportunities that the HS2 academy can provide?
Mr Goodwill: HS2 is already engaging with schools
and colleges. For example, in November it attended the
Skills Show for the first time. We need 10,000 people in
engineering just to cope with the demand for skills in
the existing rail investment strategy, and we need another
25,000 to deliver HS2.
Mrs Cheryl Gillan (Chesham and Amersham) (Con):
It is all very well helping young people with the HS2
skills academy, but it will be on the backs of the people
whose properties are blighted by the project. The Minister
need only read Melissa Kite’s moving article in The
Spectator on the plight of her elderly parents. There is
still no final compensation package, after five years, and
HS2 officials are trying to beat home owners down on
the independent valuations of their properties. It is
shaming that we have still not settled compensation
matters after five years. When is the Minister going to
sort out this shambles?
Mr Goodwill: The need-to-sell schemewill be operating
in the new year, and we are currently consulting on it. I
must point out that part of the skills agenda is investment
in skills for tunnelling.We are engaging in unprecedented
levels of tunnelling to limit environmental impacts. The
skills college will be a hub-and-spoke arrangement, and
we are looking for colleges that can teach environmental
skills to engage with it so that we can deliver on our
promise of no net biodiversity loss.