The Luton Direct Air to Rail Transit (DART) is a £225m fast transit infrastructure project, and the flagship location for the Construction Skills Fund Training Hub, which aims to create apprentice opportunities.
The hub is at the centre of Luton Council’s plans to regenerate the town and raise aspirations. It aims to provide real-life training development and employment opportunities for local people. So far it has provided training for over 700 local people to help them achieve work in construction.
A number of these have secured long-term sustained employment on the DART site, where the main contractor is VolkerFitzpatrick-Kier.
Thirteen are now apprentices on a long-term learning programme, and were gleaned from local schools as a result of the extensive career-based engagement with local education institutions. Several local Skills Hub graduates are securing apprenticeships with subcontract partners too.
The apprentices are working in diverse occupational areas – embedded in every team from civil engineering, groundworks, health and safety, administration, to finance – and are also a diverse group in their own right. Five of the thirteen (39%) are female, and five (39%) are from black and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds.
This diverse new talent is a much-needed boost – considering the UK construction industry’s well-publicised skills shortage and ageing workforce, where women make up only 15% and those from BAME backgrounds only 7%.
The Institution of Civil Engineers named Luton DART as an inspiration and trailblazer for the UK’s biggest civil engineering project HS2.