How HS2 is “upskilling the next generation” of female engineers

How HS2 is “upskilling the next generation” of female engineers

Three phases of HS2 are now officially underway, with 170 miles of new high-speed railway under construction between London and Crewe. Europe’s biggest infrastructure project has so far supported an enormous 25,000 jobs, but it’s also opened up a world of opportunities for those hoping to break into the industry.  


According to the HS2 website, this ambitious transport project is investing in “upskilling the next generation”. To this end, it has a number of skills, education and employment initiatives running for young people and graduates.  


The project has already created a wide range of work experience and training opportunities, as well as paid placements. The project is working closely with schools, colleges and universities all over the UK, to provide pathways directly into employment.  


This will be crucial as skills and labour shortages are starting to bite across many different UK sectors, including engineering, construction and infrastructure.   


HS2 unlocking opportunities for female engineers  


HS2 is particularly keen to address the gender imbalance within engineering. Research by EngineeringUK has found that just 12% of those working in engineering are female, compared to nearly 50% for the UK workforce as a whole.  


In a recent campaign to celebrate International Women in Engineering Day (23rd June), HS2 released a profile of one of the project’s rising stars.  


Hannah Brown, a 21-year-old from North Yorkshire, has been working with HS2 since summer 2021. The University of Bath Civil Engineering student started on a year-long work placement with Skanska Costain STRABAG Joint Venture (SCS JV), a key contractor on the HS2 project. She secured an ICE QUEST scholarship and joined the team building 21 kilometres of tunnels connecting HS2 to London Euston.  


On the HS2 media centre blog, Hannah said: 


“I’d always been interested in engineering and it’s fantastic to see how the industry is evolving, with more women stepping forward than ever before. 


“With a two-decade long construction programme ahead, connecting the South East, the Midlands and the North, there are thousands of opportunities out there for young people to begin building their career on HS2. 


“For me, the fact that this is a once in a lifetime project really adds to the appeal. I want to be able to look back and say – I was part of the team that built this. And I hope there are thousands more women who’ll be able to say that too.” 


The head of social sustainability at HS2 contractor SCS JV, Louise Dailly, said:  


“Hannah is one of many people to benefit from our programmes to encourage young people to take up a career in our industry. We are not only upskilling the next generation but also have pathways to recruitment for people experiencing homelessness, long term unemployment and people looking to return from an extended period away from the industry.” 


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