HS2’s construction has delivered a further boost to regional economies, with more UK businesses winning work and hundreds of people securing full-time jobs over the last three months, new figures show.

Despite the re-phasing of works at Euston and on the West Midlands – Crewe section of the railway, HS2’s workforce grew by 1,185 for the period April – June 2023, taking the number of people supporting HS2’s construction to over 29,700.

The investment in upskilling, and getting people ready for work, saw a further 307 candidates who were previously unemployed secure jobs with HS2’s construction partners and wider supply chain. As a result, 3,528 people have now transitioned from being unemployed to securing new careers with long-term prospects.

The increase in the workforce reflects the significant progress made on HS2 over the last year, with the project reaching peak construction activity and huge civil engineering structures taking shape. Construction is now well underway at over 350 active sites along Phase One of the route.

Rail Minister Huw Merriman said:

“HS2 is more than just a railway – it’s powering up the British supply chain and offering thousands of high-skilled job opportunities across the UK. As the project continues to develop at pace, I take great pride in seeing the benefits of HS2 come to life by growing our economy, kickstarting careers and soon connecting our biggest cities.”

HS2 has placed a strong focus on addressing national skills shortages. Training academies along the route of the railway, and partnerships with local and national training providers are helping to create the skilled workforce needed to deliver HS2 and major infrastructure projects of the future.

Among those to have secured work is 64-year-old James Burke from Birmingham. James had been unemployed for over a year, but when he attended a HS2 careers event in nearby Chelmsley Wood, that soon changed.

James signed up for a 20-day paid work trial with Balfour Beatty VINCI (BBV), HS2’s construction partner for the West Midlands. His previous experience working on construction sites, coupled with his appetite to work, led to him securing a full-time role. He is now part of the team delivering BBV’s programme of tunnelling works in Birmingham and Warwickshire.

James said:

“The sense of teamwork and the level of professionalism from everyone involved in driving forward HS2’s tunnel boring progamme is just brilliant. Being on site is becoming addictive. The site supervisors are great mentors, I’m learning so much.”

HS2 moved closer to achieving its target of creating 2,000 apprenticeships, with 38 new starters this quarter, taking the total number of people to have started an apprenticeship to 1,299.

20-year-old Sharoze Khan from Hillingdon began a Mechanical Apprenticeship with HS2’s construction partner, Align JV, after his advisor at the Carers Trust Hillingdon signposted him to a work trial opportunity.

Sharoze is now combining work and study and based at Align’s South Portal site, where he plays a hands-on role in the construction of the Colne Valley Viaduct.

Sharoze said:

“I’m just starting out, but I absolutely love my team and my mentor. I feel really looked after and I’m confident this is the start of an amazing career. Getting to work at height on the launch girder is something else, I could never have imagined this. I can’t wait to be able to say that I helped to make this happen.”

A referral from Job Centre Plus also led to 39-year-old Justice Nkwakama from Milton Keynes successfully completing a work trial and starting a new career as an Apprentice Steelfixer with HS2’s construction partner EKFB. Justice will join the team constructing bridges between Twyford and Greatworth.

Natalie Penrose, Head of Legacy at HS2 Ltd said:

“HS2’s investment in upskilling is making a huge difference to people’s lives across the country. Through apprenticeships and work trials, we’re getting people back into work and ensuring they receive the training and support they need to forge new careers in the transport infrastructure sector.”

A further 79 UK-based businesses won work supplying goods, services and materials to support HS2’s construction, taking the total number of British businesses in the supply chain to 3,092. Opportunities for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) also grew, with an additional 65 companies awarded contracts.