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Lower Thames Crossing Carbon Academy at heart of plans to futureproof skills

  • A new Carbon Academy will help people and businesses develop the green skills needed to build the Lower Thames Crossing and future projects
  • 45% of employees to be recruited from within 20 miles of the project – leaving a significant skills legacy in local area as well as the broader construction industry
  • New skills, education and employment strategy also includes guaranteed interviews for groups such as women returning to work and care leavers, targets for apprentices, and support for schools and local businesses
Students from Hardwick & Cambourne Community Primary School using video game Minecraft to develop their science, technology, engineering and mathematics skills. In the games, students will get a sense of the STEM skills used by professionals at Highways England to build road infrastructure including archaeology, biology, ecology, civil engineering, communications technology, and coding Picture by Rob Howarth/Stella Pictures Ltd 07768 285551 30/04/2021

National Highways has announced a digital Carbon Academy as part of a new strategy to give local people and businesses work and training on the Lower Thames Crossing, which will leave a legacy of green skills helping the region become a world-leader in low-carbon construction.

The proposed Lower Thames Crossing is a new road connecting Kent and Essex that will double road capacity across the Thames east of London through the UK’s longest road tunnels. When it opens for traffic, it will ease congestion on the Dartford Crossing and improve journeys across the region. It will unlock economic growth locally and nationally by creating a reliable new connection between the south east, midlands and the north that brings people closer to jobs and businesses closer to their customers and suppliers.

The Lower Thames Crossing will provide work for more than 22,000 people during the six-year building phase, ranging from engineers, architects, and designers, to caterers, sign makers and IT support. The project’s new Skills, Education and Employment Strategy sets out how National Highways will help local communities benefit, and includes objectives such as:

  • 45% of employees will be recruited from within 20-miles of the project
  • Thousands of opportunities to raise the skill levels of local people with qualifications, early careers, new work skills, knowledge and training
  • All staff will be enrolled in Carbon Academy to futureproof skills
  • Specialist support for over 1,000 people who were previously unemployed from a disadvantaged or underrepresented group
  • Staff will spend 7,000 hours in local schools with teachers and students
  • Championing local businesses, and spending £1 in every £3 of construction budget with SMEs

As a pathfinder project exploring carbon neutral construction, the Lower Thames Crossing will test and scale up the use of modern methods of construction, low-carbon materials and digital technology during construction of the new road. The new digital Carbon Academy is being established to help develop the skills required to deliver the project, and in doing so set a new standard for low carbon construction that will support the pipeline of future investment in the region.

Everyone who works on the project will be enrolled in the Carbon Academy, undertake a core programme of learning, and be given access to a library of resources that will be updated as new lessons and innovations are identified. National Highways will also work with industry professionals and local education and training providers to develop specialist training in a range of professions and trades. With almost half of the workforce targeted be recruited from within 20 miles of the route, the project can help local people and businesses be at the forefront of a new green economy and secure long term careers in a net zero future.

Matt Palmer, Executive Director for the Lower Thames Crossing, said:

“The scale and opportunity presented by the Lower Thames Crossing is huge both during construction and once the road is open. We want local people at the heart of our workforce, and if we’re given the green light to go ahead we are ready to create thousands of opportunities for local people and businesses to futureproof their skills and put them at the forefront of a new green economy.”

Adam Bryan, Chief Executive, South East Local Enterprise Partnership, said:

“The Lower Thames Crossing represents one of the biggest employment opportunities for our area over the next decade. We are delighted to see the publication of the Skills, Employment and Education Strategy for the Lower Thames Crossing today. This complements our ongoing work with Lower Thames Crossing and key other partners through the South East LEP (SELEP) Major Projects Skills Group which seeks to ensure that local residents and businesses can realise the benefits from the large scale investments planned for our area.

“This project will offer a wide range of job opportunities on site but it is also the indirect jobs in supporting industries and as part of the supply chain that brings a much wider opportunity to our doorstep. We know that we need the right skills to grow our economy and we need to understand the future demand so we can plan now with our schools, colleges and Universities and ensure local people can one day say – I was part of that.”

National Highways is building a team of partners with world leading expertise to build the Lower Thames Crossing who will help further develop and deliver the Skills, Employment and Education Strategy. The procurement process for these partners is underway, with the successful bidders expected to be brought on board in 2023.

National Highways is currently preparing to submit a new application for a Development Consent Order and if consent is granted, construction is expected to start in 2024.