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Greater Birmingham submits bid for HS2 college

In a submission to government, the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership said it would use nine existing local colleges for the new operation to train the next generation of railway engineers

CGI of the planned HS2 rail line

Greater Birmingham has submitted its bid to host the new £20 million HS2 College – saying it can save the Government money by using existing colleges.

In a submission to government, the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership said it would use nine existing local colleges for the new operation to train the next generation of railway engineers.

It is understood the likes of Derby and Crewe are planning to bid for the academy, which would be England’s first new college for 20 years and could open in as little as three years’ time.

LEP deputy chair Steve Hollis said: “It is a great opportunity to demonstrate the confidence that the Government has in our regional economy that we have got the talent to be able to do these things.

“We are proposing to set up a commissioning body that will draw on the efforts of the nine colleges to get in place the delivery mechanism.

“We are saying you don’t seen to build a shiny, new, building for the college – it can be done by working with what’s already there, and focusing on the right projects and apprenticeships.

“That is a much more effective use of public money.”

The bid would bring together the collective skills of Birmingham Metropolitan College, Bournville College, University College Birmingham, South and City College Birmingham, Solihull College, North East Worcestershire College, Kidderminster College, South Staffordshire College and Burton and South Derbyshire College.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills says the college would have “cutting-edge technology and use state-of-the-art equipment” providing training courses for the “specific needs” of the project which is expected to generate more than 2,000 apprenticeships.

Crewe and Derby have historic links to the railway industry, which would prove beneficial, but are not on the proposed HS2 line.

Manchester, which is part of the second phase of HS2, is also expected to submit a bid for the college.

Speaking of the wider approach, Mr Hollis said: “It is about becoming more networked in how we spend public money, as these Whitehall departments aren’t particualrly good at talking together.”

He added: “Unlike funded agencies that have gone before, who received a cheque from the Treasury and were answerable to the Treasury, we are answerable to our stakeholders. They know where we live and can come and find us.”

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