Highly skilled UK workers 'could switch jobs between major transport projects'

Transport chiefs are being urged by the Government to equip their staff with high-level skills to deliver flagship schemes.

In a speech to the heads of Crossrail Ltd, the Highways Agency, HS2, Network Rail and Transport for London, Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said a highly skilled workforce would provide flexible employment across several major infrastructure projects.

He called on transport bosses to draw up plans together with the Government to ensure its 73 billion capital spending commitment delivers a skills legacy for workers in Britain.

The Government wants this skills legacy to enable UK workers to contribute to future projects while also exporting their skills around the world, providing an economic boost in the process.

During the meeting at Ilford's 13 million Tunnelling and Underground Construction Academy, where around 3,500 people are being trained to work on Crossrail, Mr McLoughlin said he wants the bosses to come up with proposals before they meet again in 2014.

He said the Government is launching "the most ambitious programme of transport spending in generations" and that it is "equipping Britain to succeed in the global race".

As well as the infrastructure benefits associated with the schemes themselves, the Government wants its investment to generate a skilled workforce able to compete for jobs on a number of flagship projects.

"That is why today I have called on this team of industry leaders to work on plans that will equip the country with the expertise necessary to drive forward our economy for years to come," he added.

The major investment covers road, rail and urban transport schemes and it is in addition to private investment in other key forms of transport, such as at ports and airports.

Investment in major highways schemes is being trebled over a five-year period, to reach 3 billion a year by 2020/21, the Government said, in a move that will add 400 lane miles of capacity to the busiest motorways.

The Government has also pledged to spend more than 6 billion during the current Parliament and 12 billion in the next on local and national road maintenance.

Copyright Press Association 2013