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Engineering the spin

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[‘WHY SHOULD HS2AA CRITICISE A COLLEGE TO DEVELOP ENGINEERING SKILLS?’, Alan Marshall, Railnews, 16 Jan 2014]

IT is truly astonishing the lengths that some HS2 opponents will go to find fault with the project — including, it now seems, criticising plans to train many more engineers . . . engineers whom we will need, anyway, in the future.

On 13 January – as Network Rail’s outgoing chief executive David Higgins began moving into his new role as chairman of HS2 Ltd – it was announced that Britain’s first Further Education College for over 20 year is to be established to train the next generation of world-class engineers to “benefit HS2 and other future infrastructure projects across the country.”

What’s wrong with the idea of opening a college to ‘develop engineering skills’? The pitch, i.e. that one further education college could make much difference to the supply of infrastructure “engineers” at the national level. Even the Association of Teachers and Lecturers didn’t sound particularly enthused about HS2 College:

ATL comment on plans for a dedicated HS2 further education college
14 January 2014

Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), said:

“The need for a new further education college for such a high profile and significant public project shows the crucial role FE colleges can play in building skills and linking vocational education and training with economic planning and development.

“However, it is worrying that existing colleges allegedly don’t have the capacity or expertise to train sufficient numbers of young adults and adults with the skills needed. The Government should be helping FE colleges to provide engineering and requisite skills. The need for an HS2 college may show there should be a review of how vocational education and training fits into wider industrial policy and skills development. The government seems to think that inventing new schools and colleges is the answer to everything.

“It is important that staff in any new college – as well as in all existing ones – are fully qualified to teach or working towards recognised teaching qualifications.”

Furthermore, the government’s misuse of the term “engineer” to mean “technician” or “operative”, is to be deplored. The term “engineer” should be reserved and protected (as it is in countries like Germany), and there should be much more funding for university-level research and innovation in manufacturing systems, product design, operational research, and intelligent transport systems.

Comment on the HS2 College spin, from the Birtle Trust

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Written by beleben

January 16, 2014 at 5:24 pm

Posted in HS2

Tagged with ,

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