Railways: North West

Department for Transport written question – answered at on 4 December 2018.

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Photo of Frank Field Frank Field Chair, Work and Pensions Committee, Chair, Work and Pensions Committee

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps his Department is taking to secure skilled jobs in the rail industry for the North West of England.

Photo of Andrew Jones Andrew Jones Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

Government is investing £48bn in Network Rail over 2019-2024, alongside significant projects like HS2. This significant investment in the rail network gives companies across the entire rail supply chain sector, including in the North West of England, the certainty to invest in people and skills.

In 2016 DfT set ambitions through the Transport Infrastructure Skills Strategy to increase apprenticeships in road and rail bodies to help address skills shortages in the transport sector and ensure that the transport sector has the capacity and capability to deliver planned investment.

DfT works in collaboration with employers across the sector to create quality apprenticeships through an industry body, the Strategic Transport Apprenticeship Taskforce (STAT) to deliver these ambitions. Network Rail, HS2, the Rail Delivery Group, the National Skills Academy for Rail and TfL are members of STAT. So far, over 5000 apprenticeships have been created in road and rail bodies.

Since 2017, the Department for Transport has used its procurement to drive apprenticeship numbers through contracts, including those within the rail industry.

Manchester's Growth Strategy is looking to maximise skills to make the most of the opportunities that HS2 will bring to the area and sets out aspirations to develop a skilled workforce through close work ‘with the four Universities within Greater Manchester to provide STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) skills through higher apprenticeship, graduate and post-graduate qualifications in close partnership with industry.

Rail, like many other industries, have set out their interest in developing a Sector Deal and have been working across the industry and with government to develop their proposal. We expect a focus on skills and apprenticeships to form a key part of a Rail Sector Deal.

We have also this year been running the Year of Engineering to increase the number and diversity of engineers across the UK and to address the engineering skills gap.

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