LONDON, England – Heathrow announced today the appointment of the Rt Hon, the Lord Blunkett as Chair of the airport’s new Heathrow Skills Taskforce. During his distinguished political career, Lord Blunkett held the Cabinet posts responsible for Education, for Employment and for Work and Pensions and so brings extensive experience that will help ensure Heathrow provides further support at all levels of education, from local primary schools to the place of work, if expansion of the airport takes place.
The Taskforce will ensure there’s a clear plan to provide the skills required to build and operate an expanded Heathrow. Its recommendations will maximise the employment benefits of this, and other private sector infrastructure investments, which are all the more important in these uncertain economic times. The Taskforce will work with the Heathrow supply chain to ensure the skills required are developed across the UK during the third runway’s construction phase, ensuring a legacy for future infrastructure projects. It will also make certain that young people in the local community have the skills necessary to build careers at an expanded Heathrow. This will include ensuring the right teaching, opportunities for employment, training and career progression that will allow local people to fulfil their potential, and ensuring that Heathrow becomes a role model for social mobility and diversity.
The Taskforce will begin its work as soon as the Government grants approval for Heathrow expansion, and will sit for 18 months. It will be comprised of 12 members with expertise in employability, education and skills, and young people. The Taskforce will be advised by a group of 15 representatives from education organisations, to ensure their recommendations are consistent with existing curriculums and programmes.
The appointment of Lord Blunkett comes as the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce publishes its report “Construction Pipeline Skills Analysis: Heathrow Airport Expansion.” One of the recommendations of today’s report is for Heathrow to engage early with its supply chain, training providers, schools and other agencies to prepare for the large increase in workforce requirements beyond 2020. To ensure the benefits of expansion are felt throughout the country, the Taskforce has been asked to explore a skills strategy focussed around regional procurement hubs that will identify the unique sector strengths of each region and ensure the airport’s procurement strategy is tailored to complement them.