From education to employment

#BlazeATrail 250 HS2 apprentices on track for success

The next generation of engineers, project managers, designers, architects and geologists are playing their part in the construction of the new high-speed railway, as the project is on course to create 2,000 apprenticeship opportunities.

And now, to coincide with National Apprentice Week (Monday 4 – Friday 8 March), HS2 Ltd has opened up a new wave of apprentice vacancies offering an exciting career working on Europe’s largest infrastructure project, to gain skills that can be used around the globe.

With over 7,000 jobs already supported by the project and with work well underway on scores of live sites up and down Phase One of the railway, there has never been a more exciting time to jump on board.

It has also been revealed that both HS2 Ltd and its early works contractors are exceeding targets for the number of apprentices employed on the project.

Both HS2 Ltd’s CEO Mark Thurston, and Chair Allan Cook, began their careers as apprentices, demonstrating how apprenticeships can create the foundations for a successful career.

Mark Thurston Chief Executive of HS2 Ltd and former Transport for London apprentice said:

“Creating over 250 apprenticeship roles across the HS2 programme is a significant milestone and shows good progress to date between us and our supply chain. We are committed to equipping the next generation with the technical skills to not only help design and build HS2, but to leave a lasting skills legacy for the country.

“Having started my own career as an apprentice, I absolutely know how an apprenticeship plays a crucial role in your early career development and goes a long way to give you the right skills that future employers need. I am really impressed by the knowledge and enthusiasm of our apprentices and I look forward to seeing them, and all our apprentices in our supply chain, develop as the project progresses.”

HS2 is also attracting more women into the traditionally male dominated construction and rail sectors. As this week also marks International Women’s Day, HS2 Ltd is proud that many of the apprentices now working on the project are women.

Gaining two years’ experience, in addition to a qualification has helped HS2 Ltd apprentice Clara Lenzi build her skills to progress in the industry, an advantage she feels she has on those coming straight from university.

Clara Lenzi, HS2 Ltd Project Management apprentice said:

“Working on HS2 has been a superb experience. Studying for a qualification while being at work has allowed me to apply the knowledge to my every day work, giving me a better understanding, alongside opportunities for further development.

“At HS2 I’ve been given lots of responsibility, which has aided my progression and success as a Project Manager and allowed me to build invaluable relationships within the workplace. I am learning from some of the most experienced people in the industry. Sharing their knowledge and expertise with me has enable me to develop to the highest standard. I would recommend an apprenticeship to anyone at any age, it creates new challenges for you to face every day and will give you the experience to get to where you want to be in your career.”

A once in a lifetime opportunity to work on the biggest infrastructure project in Europe bought Naomi Blissett to HS2 Ltd. With a background in customer service and support roles, she had never studied for an apprenticeship before and went straight into the world of work after trying university and realising it wasn’t for her. At the age of 35, she is a great example of how it’s never too late to start an apprenticeship.

Many of the 250 apprentices are working with HS2’s supply chain companies. Around 2,000 companies have supported HS2 so far, with 70% of contracts going to SMEs, supporting jobs and apprenticeships right across the country. There will be 30,000 jobs at peak construction as HS2 demonstrates how it is delivering for the country – increasing capacity, rebalancing the economy and joining up Britain.

HS2 Ltd is keen to encourage a diverse range of candidates as it welcomes its next 25 apprentices into the business. The vacancies are open to everyone from school leavers to parents returning to work, or those looking for a new challenge.

To find out more about the scheme, or to apply for one of our latest apprenticeship roles visit, visit (apprenticeship vacancies go live on Monday 4 March and will close on Sunday 14 April 2019).

HS2 Ltd is announcing 25 new apprenticeship vacancies today. The roles are based in both Birmingham and London in IT, Finance, Commercial, Project Management, Public Relations and HR teams.

HS2 Ltd will create 2,000 apprenticeship opportunities through direct employment and vacancies linked to our contractors and supply chain.  This will guarantee a diverse range of opportunities, spanning a range of subjects and career paths, are available to all.

HS2 Ltd is meeting its year on year obligations to ensure that 2.3% of its workforce is made up of apprentices. 

My apprentice journey on Britain’s new railway

Thirty-five year-old Naomi Blissett from Erdington is one of 250 apprentices who have now worked on High Speed 2 (HS2). As part of National Apprenticeship Week (Monday 4 – Friday 8 March) and International Women’s Day (8 March) Naomi shares her experience of what it’s like to work on Britain’s new high-speed railway:

Joining HS2 as an apprentice presented the opportunity of a lifetime, and has definitely been the right choice for me. I am closer to realising my career goals and have gained valuable experience while working towards new qualifications.

As well as new project management skills, I have also developed my communication skills, being able to present to large audiences and communicate more confidently with senior colleagues.

I never thought when I entered the workplace that my first job would be part of Europe’s largest infrastructure project. But that’s the beauty of being an apprentice on HS2. As part of my project management apprenticeship, I’m at the forefront of the UK’s digital construction revolution, BIM (Building Information Management), and am involved with creating digital models of the railway for use in the design and construction phase. No two days are the same and I’m getting experience across HS2’s multiple disciplines.

At the age of 35, I like to think I’m a great example of how it’s never too late to start an apprenticeship. There’s a common misconception that apprenticeships are just for school and college leavers, but they are open to everyone. I have never looked back and will always encourage others to consider an apprenticeship when weighing up options for their career, no matter what stage of the life they’re at.

Working at HS2 is really rewarding, as I know that I’m playing a part in creating Britain’s new railway line that will benefit not just me, but my family and friends. It will transform how we all travel up and down the country, whether that be for business or leisure, and capacity on the current network will be freed up to handle more local, regional and freight services. My passion for the job is fuelled by the legacy this project will leave behind for successive generations.

Before joining HS2, I worked in a variety of customer service roles and support roles and had never studied for an apprenticeship before, focusing on individual jobs rather than a career. I did study at college and also tried university but realised it wasn’t for me. Joining HS2 as an apprentice presented the opportunity of a lifetime; not only do the company’s values – integrity, leadership, respect and safety – align perfectly to my own, being part of both a growing organisation and history, is very motivating itself.

Not only am I working – and earning – alongside experienced staff and gaining job-specific skills, I am also given time to study towards a qualification one day each week at the National College for High Speed Rail (NCHSR) in Birmingham. In fact, I was among the first cohort of students to enrol there in September 2017 and am now studying towards a Level 4 Association of Project Management (APM) Project Management Qualification (PMQ).

My work at HS2 sees me working on developing an integrated platform within BIM which will ensure information is easily accessibly across HS2 many disciplines. As well as helping the design and construction of the railway and associated assets, my work is also enabling effective management and collaboration with contractors across HS2’s supply chain.

Working at HS2 has already given me a range of experiences and has helped me to develop technically and personally. I am given the responsibility that I need to progress in my career and also the opportunity to then use this experience going forward in this project for years to come. As well as new project management skills, I have also developed my communication skills, being able to present to large audiences and communicate more confidently with senior colleagues. I see my skills as relevant – negotiating, listening and empathy – this has made me more resilient and this is important in project management.

As an apprentice, I am able to apply the concepts and technical knowledge learnt at the NCHSR to help understand my work with greater clarity. Furthermore, it is humbling to work with a diverse range of people with various experiences and skills. I learn so much from simply speaking to my colleagues on a daily basis. This is all helping me develop into a more desirable candidate for the next stage in my career.

An apprenticeship at HS2 has definitely been the right choice for me, I am closer to realising my career goals and have gained valuable experience while working towards new qualifications. I am happier in myself and motivated to excel within the project management profession.

If anyone is reading this and is considering becoming an apprentice, my advice would be to choose a path you think will suit you the most, consider what you enjoy, and see if there’s a role which covers this in the workplace. As the HS2 project is so vast and covers multiple disciplines, there are opportunities for everyone.

Wherever my career takes me next I look forward to riding one of the first HS2 trains in 2026, knowing that I played my own part in making it happen, and that feeling will be priceless.

Naomi Blissett, Project Management apprentice, HS2 Ltd

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