Heathrow challenged to leave national legacy of skills for future infrastructure projects

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The independent Heathrow Skills Taskforce has published a series of recommendations that could help the UK capitalize on the tens of thousands of new jobs, apprenticeships and career development opportunities that will be created by the airport’s expansion.

The report also highlights how Heathrow could play a significant part in helping to address the skills challenges faced by UK infrastructure projects.

The report encourages the creation of ambitious programs and targets, and contains a set of practical actions for Heathrow, its commercial partners and supply chain to implement. These include the launch of a new ‘infrastructure skills passport’, which would act as a recognized Infrastructure Record of Achievement developed alongside other major UK infrastructure projects, encouraging future employers to recognize workers’ skills and past experiences.

The report also recommends the establishment of a skills partnership with the further and higher education sectors, helping adapt and reskill the existing workforce and create a pipeline of talent not only to benefit Heathrow but also the wider infrastructure industry. It also recommends the promotion of career choices and engagement with the education sector, delivering 10,000 work experience days over the lifetime of the expansion project, and engagement with a wider group on entry points into a Heathrow career, including older job seekers and groups facing barriers to employment and progression.

The Heathrow Skills Taskforce has also asked for the publication of an apprenticeship plan specifying the numbers and levels of apprenticeships expected from Heathrow and its supply chain in the future; and lead business change, including ensuring suppliers and commercial contracts provide clear targets on apprenticeships and recruitment of local people, and commitments to diversity and inclusion.

The report highlights that the wider construction sector needs to recruit 158,000 workers to meet the forecasted 2022 demand across industry. The Taskforce wrote that Heathrow has an opportunity to help address this skills gap.

Announcing the new recommendations, Lord David Blunkett, chair of the Heathrow Skills Taskforce, said, “Our ambition is that these recommendations will help ensure Heathrow expansion and its legacy helps shape a stronger workforce for Britain’s future. These recommendations have the potential to challenge current industry practice for the long-term benefit of the workforce and the economy.

“Britain is at a pivotal moment in improving its national infrastructure with major projects such as HS2, Hinkley Point C, Tideway, in addition to Heathrow expansion. It is clear from our research that collaboration will be key to meeting skills shortages and maximizing productivity.

“Major projects, commercial partners and suppliers must work closer together to secure a new generation of homegrown talent with world-class skills that Britain can be proud of.”

John Holland-Kaye, chief executive at Heathrow, added, “The Heathrow Skills Taskforce has been undertaking essential work looking at how we can best maximize the opportunities expansion will bring, and today we welcome the recommendations and the challenge that we need to go beyond a ‘Business as Usual’ approach.

“Our role over the coming months will be to review these recommendations alongside our partners and supply chain and identify which will help us best deliver a lasting economic legacy for generations of people.”

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Kirstie joined the team in early 2017 and brings writing, communications and client experience with her. Now an assistant editor, she produces content for our magazines and websites. Away from the office, you will find her blogging on her lifestyle website or searching the internet for photos of sausage dogs.

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