With the announcement that HS2 will be going ahead, there is a worry that growing skills gap, limitations on migration and IR35 may hinder the UK’s access to talent in order to build the high-speed railway.
The Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo), does believe that HS2 will have a positive impact on employment opportunities across the UK. However, it comes at a time when the UK is facing certain challenges regarding access to skills.
APSCo believes the UK should have a “dedicated visa route as part of the future skills-based immigration system, through which highly skilled contractors from overseas can come to the UK and support British businesses.”
It is expected that the first phase of the railway will create around 40,000 jobs, still, this creates another challenge to the job sectors as it will mainly add to are engineering and construction, two areas already experiencing skill shortages.
Tania Bowers, legal counsel at APSCo, said:
There is no doubt that a huge infrastructure project such as HS2 will have a positive impact on employment opportunities across the UK, both during construction and beyond. The resulting high-speed rail line has the potential to boost investment across the Midlands and the North of England so that all regions of the UK can contribute to the country’s future prosperity. However, the success of the project firmly pivots on the availability of specialist skills.
Yes, HS2’s commitment to growing its own talent will ultimately create the engineers of the future to the benefit of the wider infrastructure sector – but in the short-term, the project will require professionals from overseas.
At a time when growing skills gaps across the UK economy risk being exacerbated by limitations on migration and incoming changes to off-payroll working legislation, it is vital that we retain access to valuable talent. In APSCo’s own manifesto we have called for a dedicated visa route as part of the future skills-based immigration system, through which highly skilled contractors from overseas can come to the UK and support British businesses – and this is yet another example of where this talent is needed.