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Transport for London to double skilled staff

Transport for London is embarking on a major training and recruitment drive to ensure there are enough skilled workers to build large-scale forthcoming projects such as Crossrail.

The capital’s rail operator admitted it will need an extra 18,000 full-time employees by 2012 to cope with the demand of jobs such as the Underground line upgrades and London Overground work.

Work on Crossrail will increase this number to 20,000 from 2013. Workers will be required across all disciplines including project managers, commercial managers, civil and structural engineers, electrical and mechanical engineers, tunnellers and general construction workers.

Speaking at the Railway Forum annual conference, Ian Brown, managing director for London Rail at TfL, said: “Basically we need to double our resources.”

TfL started working on its ten-year skills and employment strategy after a 2007 report by the London Skills and Employment Board highlighted future skills shortages in the capital.

Valerie Todd, managing director of group services at TfL, told Construction News: “We have developed strategies to target all the main areas, from managers down to general workers.”

TfL will work with stakeholders including colleges and universities across the country and local authorities in London to encourage people to train in the relevant disciplines.

Mr Brown admitted that TfL does not know the extent of the staff shortfall in each discipline, or the proportion of permanent and temporary staff needed. The rail operator is planning to liaise with contractors to find the biggest shortages.

Mr Brown added: “There are falling graduate and apprenticeship numbers and implementing this ten-year programme is an important first step.”

Firms signing up to work on TfL projects will be required to ensure they have the right people and right training procedures to deliver the job on budget and on time.

Ms Todd said: “Our supply chain has an obligation to give due attention to labour needs.”

THE BIG JOBS

Crossrail (£16 billion) TfL is responsible for the tunnelling sections and the upgrade of six stations in central London (Paddington, Bond Street, Tottenham Court Road, Farringdon, Liverpool Street and Whitechapel).

London Overground (£1.4 billion) The bulk of the budget is being spent on extending the East London Line between Dalston in the north-east and West Croydon. The extended East London line will become part of the Overground network when it opens in 2010 and will eventually link with the North London Line at Highbury and Islington in 2011, creating the first part of an orbital service around the capital.

Tube upgrade (£30 billion approx) Work includes track upgrades, new signalling systems and station refurbishments. Maintenance company Tube Lines looks after Jubilee, Northern and Piccadilly lines under a public/private partnership.