‘Kickstart’ launched in September 2020 to support young people whose employment prospects were adversely affected by the Coronavirus pandemic. It provides those aged 16-24, and in receipt of Universal Credit, with the opportunity to secure a paid work placement.
As part of its commitment to support local people into work, HS2’s construction partner, Balfour Beatty VINCI (BBV), pledged that it would provide 30 youngsters with a six-month paid placement. Now the first of those to be recruited have gone on to secure full-time jobs with BBV on HS2.
Julie Venn-Morton, HS2’s Skills Manager for the West Midlands said:
“We’ve already committed to creating 2,000 apprenticeships and this is a further sign of the employment boost that HS2 is creating, especially for young people.
“We hope that everyone who successfully completes their paid work trial will go onto secure not just a job, but a life-long career opportunity.”
24-year-old Amanda from Solihull, 22-year-old Samuel from Tamworth and 23-year-old Jack from Birmingham have all signed new employment contracts with BBV, enabling them to begin their careers working full-time on Europe’s biggest engineering project.
Having struggled to find paid work, Amanda was volunteering in her local community. She heard about the paid placement with BBV but didn’t imagine that the construction sector would offer the type of job that she was looking for.
Amanda, who is now working as a Performance and Reporting Analyst said:
“If you’d have told me growing up that I’d be working in construction I really wouldn’t have believed it, but that’s because I had no idea about the variety of jobs that are needed to help deliver HS2.
“I’m a detail person, so an analytical role really suits me, and I can see myself developing a career from this opportunity.”
Jack’s Kickstart placement has enabled him to put his Mathematics degree into practice. He’d always wanted to work in finance and accountancy and his new role as Site Support Officer is a step on the ladder towards achieving his career goal. On a day-to-day basis, he’s responsible for invoicing, matching suppliers and buyers and ensuring that everyone gets paid on time.
“This is such a landmark project. I feel lucky that I’m starting my career here and putting my degree into practice. Kickstart enabled me to get my foot in the door and just two months later, I’ve got a full-time job doing exactly what I wanted to do. I’m excited for what the future holds.”
Samuel had been working as a labourer but was laid off during lockdown. The construction sector had always appealed to him and he’d set his sights on becoming a mechanical engineer. After successfully completing his work placement, BBV is investing in his future and supporting his career goal by offering him a Level 4 Site Engineering Technician apprenticeship.
Samuel, who will split his time studying at South and City College and working across BBV’s West Midlands and Warwickshire construction sites said:
“The scale and challenge that this role offers is huge and I know I’ll probably never work on a project this big ever again. it’s exciting to know I’m going to be part of the team laying the tracks for Britain’s new railway. I’m so grateful for this opportunity.”
Shilpi Akbar, Head of Stakeholders and Communities at Balfour Beatty VINCI said:
“At Balfour Beatty VINCI, providing opportunities for young people across the region is one of our absolute priorities. We want everyone - particularly those who are currently unemployed – to enjoy the wide range of opportunities available through the construction of HS2.
“Through the Kickstart scheme, young people will not only develop and hone the skills required to thrive in their future careers but will see the substantial benefit of their work enjoyed for years to come. As the first of our Kickstart placements settle happily into their permanent roles, it is clearly not an opportunity to be missed.”
BBV estimates that it will need a workforce of around 7,000 people to deliver its programme of work on the HS2 project. It is already employing apprentices, graduates and providing free training and support to help local people who are out of work into employment.
For more information about careers and opportunities with HS2 and within the supply chain, visit hs2.org.uk/careers