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Project pipeline to 2015 rises by £4bn

The government has boosted the value of the construction pipeline up to 2015 by £4 billion.

The pipeline had its first six-month update last week and now stands at £40bn and 629 projects, compared with the £36bn and 432 projects announced in November.

The figure for 2011/12 has been upgraded from £10.2bn to £11.6bn, with the inclusion of new sectors such as nuclear commissioning and culture, media and sport bolstering the figures against falls in health and housing.

The value of the pipeline for 2012/13 has risen from £9.77bn to £10.56bn, with some increases in flooding, health and transport.

For the following year, it rose from £8.9bn to £9.9bn, and 2014/15 has grown from £7.2bn to £8.7bn.

Five hundred highways schemes have been added, although their values have not been included as some are yet to be defined.

The figures were revealed alongside a government report unveiling plans to create a fully skilled infrastructure workforce capable of meeting the massive tunnelling demand associated with £50bn of major infrastructure projects.

Tunnelling has suffered from inefficient procurement despite being central to some of the biggest planned construction schemes in the UK.

The Department for Business Innovation and Skills and the Cabinet Office are “taking initial steps” with industry and academia to explore new tunnelling training and apprenticeship opportunities.

The government said 450 new apprentices will be needed over the next five years, as well as additional training for 500 existing underground construction workers.

There will also be a summit for the industry and the government to explore options for training apprentices and existing workers through the new Tunnelling and Underground Construction Academy in east London.

The summit will also debate ways to support sponsorship of higher level degree courses.

Institution of Civil Engineers director-general Nick Baveystock welcomed the focus on skills as “a platform on which to assess future needs, particularly potential skills gaps and priorities for developing engineering innovations”.

Costain managing director Darren James, who worked with the government on the tunnelling initiative, highlighted the ageing workforce in the tunnelling sector.

He estimated that between 900 and 1,000 extra people needed to be trained.

He expected the government to “pump prime” training but said the private sector was likely to invest thereafter.

The tunnelling report mentioned seven major schemes under way, including High Speed 2, Crossrail, the Northern Line Extension, National Grid cable tunnels and the Thames Tideway Tunnel.

But it said there had been a historic lack of visibility of the construction pipeline and that a “lack of continuity of work has limited industry’s confidence to invest in training new workers ahead of contracts being placed”.

It claimed the latest commitment to work with industry would address the investment in building capability needed to ensure that future projects can be “delivered to time and budget” and improve opportunities for UK-based companies to work overseas.

Mr James said the pipeline would also help companies to get optimum use of capital investment in equipment.

For example, firms would be more likely to invest in new tunnel boring machines if they knew they could be used for at least four jobs.


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