- Posted by Fawkes and Reece
- On 1st March 2017
Infrastructure has been flagged as a key area of the UK economy and the government continues to place a strong emphasis on the sector. This has included investment along with the development of detailed delivery strategies such as the National Infrastructure Delivery Plan, which charts the direction of national investment in infrastructure projects up until 2021:
- Roads; £12.6bn
- Rail; £46.2bn
- Airports & ports; £5.4bn
- Energy; £117.4bn
- Water and waste; £19.7bn
These are some of the substantial projects that are going to be part of the infrastructure landscape across the UK in the coming years:
The Hinkley Point Reactor C in the South West is the first nuclear power station built in a generation and will be the largest building site in Europe. The £18bn project will take 10 years to build and early estimates are that the project will create in excess of 25,000 new jobs.
The expansion and improvement of the rail network covers a range of high profile projects. Crossrail and Thameslink are nearing completion and there are six active National Rail enhancement programs. The Northern Line underground expansion and the much discussed HS2 were recently granted royal assent.
The preliminary construction work on the Thames Tideway Tunnel is underway and will modernise London’s ageing sewerage system. Construction begins on the main tunnelling activity shortly with the entire project expected to be delivered by 2023.
The road network up and down the country is going through substantial renewal with 100 major projects underway or planned. These will deliver an additional 1,300 lane miles to the road network.
These projects should be great news for all involved in infrastructure development. But in the government’s National Infrastructure Plan for Skills, it was identified that over 20 percent of civil engineers will retire in the next 15 years. The challenge that the sector needs to address is how to attract and develop new people.
In relation to entry level positions the government has set a target of 3 million apprenticeships by the end of 2020, which will be supported by a levy on businesses with a wage bill of more than £3m. The National College for High Speed Rail has been created to provide training to support the construction of HS2 and will open in September 2017. There is a great emphasis in educational institutions to attract people into engineering courses. Innovative programs like the Women in Brunel Engineering and Computing (WiBEC) programme are providing financial support and mentoring to women looking to study STEM subjects.
The opportunities within infrastructure are immense with billions of pounds of projects in the pipeline and thousands of new jobs being created. To attract the top talent, everyone involved in infrastructure needs to do what they can to welcome a more diverse workforce, looking past the traditional and embracing the new. The challenge is if this can happen before we lose the wealth of experience of those nearing retirement.