Thirty three youngsters from the West Midlands will take their first steps into the world of work as they begin their T-Level industry placements on HS2.

HS2’s construction partner Balfour Beatty VINCI (BBV), was one of the first big companies to back the new T-Level when it was introduced in 2020. The two-year qualification combines study with an industry placement that accounts for 20% of students’ final grades. It is designed to better prepare young people for the world of work, with skills that align to specific industries and employer requirements.

Following the success of its partnership with Walsall College, which saw seven students progress straight onto degree-level apprenticeships supporting HS2’s construction, BBV has expanded its commitment this year by offering over 30 placements to students at four Midlands-based colleges.

Pupils from Walsall, Thomas Telford in Wolverhampton, Dudley and Solihull colleges will begin their first industry placement on HS2 this week, and this year’s programme will be extended to those studying IT as well as Construction.

Julie Venn-Morton, HS2’s Senior Legacy Manager for the West Midlands said:

“The success of HS2’s first T-Level industry placement scheme, which resulted in just under half of the students securing a full-time job, has increased demand from both the colleges and young people wanting to partner with us. The chance to start building a career on HS2 as a teenager is without doubt a once in a lifetime opportunity, and we wish this year’s cohort every success with their studies and their industry placements.”

Among those joining the class of 2022 are:

18-year old Yusuf Naeem from Acocks Green, Birmingham. Yusuf is studying towards a T-level in Digital Production, Design and Development at Solihull College. He said:

“I’m really excited about this placement and the experience of working in such a big company. I’m hoping to learn lots of new skills, which I can apply to my studies too.”

17-year old Nathan Fadiran O’Connor from Wolverhampton is studying a T-level in Construction: Design, Surveying and Planning at Thomas Telford College. He said:

“This placement will give me a great foundation, as I start my career in construction. I chose Balfour Beatty VINCI because I know I’ll receive all the support I need while I’m with them – something which is really important to me at this early stage of my working life.”

16-year old Josh Baker from Tipton is also studying towards a T-level in Construction: Design, Surveying and Planning at Thomas Telford College. He said:

“This is a great opportunity to explore and try out different career paths within the industry. I’m really looking forward to networking and meeting new people while I’m on this placement.”

17-year old Libby Parker from West Bromwich is studying for a T-level in Construction: Design, Surveying and Planning at Dudley College. Libby’s placement is with Balfour Beatty VINCI’s design partnership with Mott Macdonald and Systra. Libby said:

“I’ve always wanted to work in construction and this placement is a great way to learn about what kind of roles are available. When this placement is over and I’ve completed my studies, my ambition is to secure a degree apprenticeship.”

Balfour Beatty VINCI’s dedicated skills, employment and education team brokered the college partnerships and is now working closely with Warwickshire College Group to expand the programme to welcome its students in the New Year.

The T-Level programme forms part of BBV’s commitment to ensure that those who live close to the section of the railway that they are building, between Warwickshire and Staffordshire, are given every opportunity to benefit from training, employment and upskilling opportunities.

Shilpi Akbar, Head of Stakeholders and Communities at Balfour Beatty VINCI said:

“As HS2’s construction partner, we have a responsibility to make sure communities across the West Midlands feel the full benefit of this major project. These placements go some way to achieving that, by giving students the opportunity to gain valuable experience and equipping them with skills they couldn’t learn in the classroom. We’re big supporters of the T-Level programme, which we believe can inspire the next generation and act as a springboard for future careers in construction.”