Duke of York visits Tunnelling and Underground Construction Academy in east London

Duke of York visits Tunnelling and Underground Construction Academy in east London

The Duke heard first-hand from a number of apprentices, including several who were previously unemployed, about the benefits of apprenticeships and their aspirations for the future.

Over 70 Apprentices are now employed on Europe’s largest infrastructure project. Apprenticeships are offered through the supply chain as contracts are awarded with numbers expected to rise further with the start of major tunnelling activity next month.

Apprenticeships are offered in a variety of subject areas, providing vocational training in construction, craft and office-based roles with priority given to candidates from London boroughs.

Crossrail Chairman Terry Morgan said: “Crossrail is committed to delivering at least 400 apprenticeships over the lifetime of the project. I’m delighted that HRH The Duke of York had an opportunity to learn first hand about the importance of apprenticeships and also meet directly with young people to hear their experiences. In these tough economic times, apprenticeships deliver a structured vocational learning and development route for young people while also providing employers with the ability to harness new and emerging talent.”

Located at Ilford in east London, TUCA aims to address the shortage of people with the necessary skills to work on Crossrail and other tunnelling projects in London and the UK. TUCA will offer training to at least 3,500 people over the lifetime of the project.

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The Tunnelling and Underground Construction Academy opened its doors in September and its facilities include a tunnel mock-up and a Spray Concrete Lining workshop. This allows students to gain experience in the practical skills required for underground construction. TUCA students are made up of new entrants to the industry as well as Crossrail’s contractors’ existing workforces.

Thousands of people will be employed in building Crossrail at the height of construction in 2013-15. Further jobs will be supported through the supply chain in London and in regionally-based manufacturers and suppliers.

TUCA will not only ensure that Crossrail has the skills needed for its construction but will be retained post-Crossrail as a specialist training centre for other tunnelling projects.

An unprecedented level of tunnelling and underground work is due to take place in the UK over the next decade including the construction of major new water and electricity tunnels under London. The Academy will not only provide specialist skills training for Crossrail but also the wider UK and global construction industry. The Tunnelling and Underground Construction Academy will also collaborate internationally on improvements to underground construction safety.

Crossrail is also working with Jobcentre Plus (JCP) to provide local people with opportunities to work on the Crossrail project. Jobcentre Plus works with a network of local job brokerage and outreach agencies to match vacancies to suitable candidates and arrange interviews for short-listed applicants.

Contractors are obliged to send all employment opportunities to the local job brokerage and outreach agencies 48 hours before they advertise them elsewhere. This gives the team an early opportunity to put forward job-ready candidates from the local area.

Through JobCentre Plus, Crossrail also offers pre-employment training to unemployed Londoners with a view to them moving into work or an apprenticeship with a Crossrail contractor. Over 200 people have so far received pre-employment training.

When it opens in 2018, Crossrail will boost London’s rail capacity by ten per cent, deliver new journey opportunities, faster journey times and up to 24 trains per hour between Paddington and Whitechapel during the peak.