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HS2 Skills Academy

Volume 575: debated on Thursday 6 February 2014

In January, the Government announced their intention to set up a new college to train the next generation of world-class engineers to work on the construction of High Speed 2. My Department is working with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and HS2 Ltd to develop the proposals, which are currently at an early stage.

My right hon. Friend will know of the proud manufacturing heritage in the Humber—in east Yorkshire and north Lincolnshire. May I suggest that he ensures that any such skills academy is located in the Humber, and that a perfect location would be in Scunthorpe, which was recently awarded a university technical college?

I am pleased about the awarding of the UTC in my hon. Friend’s area, and he doubtless campaigned for it vigorously. I know that he will continue the campaign to get the HS2 skills college. I have had a number of requests from various hon. Members as to where this college should be located.

As an ex-apprentice, I am very passionate about the idea of creating more apprenticeships, and this project presents an ideal opportunity. Labour is committed to creating one apprenticeship for every £1 million spent. Will the Government do likewise?

What is important is the way in which we have massively increased the number of apprenticeships. Part of today’s announcement about Bombardier means that there will be an increase in apprenticeships in that area, and I am looking at every possible avenue to encourage apprenticeships.

Again, may I congratulate Ministers on the brilliant result of Bombardier getting the Crossrail deal and the 80 apprentices that that contract will bring? Would it not make complete sense for this academy to be based in Derby?

As I said to my hon. Friend the Member for Brigg and Goole (Andrew Percy), there will be a number of applications for the location of this academy. I join my hon. Friend the Member for South Derbyshire (Heather Wheeler) in congratulating Bombardier, which won this Crossrail contract against some stiff competition. It just shows that Bombardier can win competitions for rolling stock and that the Government are committed to providing that rolling stock, too.

What assessment was made of the capacity and expertise of existing further education colleges before the decision was made to spend £20 million of scarce public money on a new academy?

I am pleased that the hon. Gentleman seems not to be bidding; there will be one fewer venue to consider as a result of that sort of intervention. It is not often I hear people complaining about the Government investing in higher education and the future of our engineering skills. I am very proud we are doing it—it will be £20 million well spent.