Pipeline of talent
Another reason Yorkshire scores for us is its traditional and continuing strength in manufacturing. It’s a region with a workforce perfect to help us develop.
East Yorkshire is the European capital of caravan building, an industry with transferable skills for turbine blade or train manufacturing. It also has a fantastic heritage in marine engineering, again directly relevant to our logistics and harbour operations. Meanwhile, Brough, between Hull and Goole, is where fighter jets have been built for decades and we saw people come into our business from that route.
Our research indicated the skills would be available within the region and this was vindicated with 28,000 applications for the 1,000 jobs we created in Hull – 96% of them from the Hull area. We’re confident we’ll get at least as good a response in Goole.
Our investment in Goole builds on a strong rail tradition in Yorkshire. Goole is close to Doncaster, a railway town with thousands of people employed in the industry, and it offers access to a potential workforce across east, west, north and south Yorkshire, all within 30 minutes commute.
When considering locations for investments such as these we look at the immediate employment pool and the longer-term pipeline of talent and how we can work with schools, colleges and universities to develop a supply line of future employees. I’m delighted that we have chosen Selby College as our training partner for our Goole apprenticeship programme.
A great example of our proactive approach was our critical role in establishing Ron Dearing University Technical College in Hull to develop the digital engineers and tech specialists we and other leading employers in the region require to meet the challenges and opportunities of the fourth industrial revolution.
Opened in 2017, the year after our blade factory, Ron Dearing UTC has been over-subscribed in each of its first three years and is rated as outstanding across the board by Ofsted.
I couldn’t be prouder that among the first 12 apprentices we have recruited for Goole are two former Ron Dearing UTC students – and even prouder that these rail engineers of the future are female.
That illustrates our commitment to diversity and inclusivity – to creating a workforce that reflects society today.
The Freeport opportunity
Goole is the UK’s largest inland port and part of the country’s busiest ports complex. That presents an enormous opportunity for this cluster to be granted Freeport status, which we are developing with partners, including Associated British Ports.
It is understood that Chancellor Rishi Sunak would like to establish ten Freeports around the UK as powerful economic zones to address post-Brexit issues around customs and tax arrangements, stimulate new inward investments, particularly in manufacturing, and create new jobs.
We and our partners strongly believe there is no better location than the Humber, including Goole, to deliver on the exciting potential for economic development that Freeport status offers. We are working as one team to secure an opportunity we believe is critical to the future success of the Humber.
Connected and collaborative
Great connectivity is another key factor for Goole; with a rail line linking to the national rail network, as well as enjoying excellent road connections across the North and three airports all within an hour’s travel time.
Similar to Hull, space was a key consideration for the selection of our site for the Goole 36 enterprise zone, off Junction 36 of the M62. There, we found a 67-acre plot, ripe for development and of sufficient size to accommodate our trains factory and associated facilities. Our goal is to create an industry-leading “rail village” bringing together manufacturing, research and development, digital innovation, and key suppliers.
In both Hull and Goole we have encouraged collaboration, innovation and research and development.
In Hull we were a key catalyst for facilities that will cement the Humber as a worldwide centre of excellence for the offshore wind industry. We worked with partners across the industry in a consortium, led by the University of Hull, to establish the Aura Innovation Centre, which is supporting businesses to develop low carbon projects, drive green innovation and clean business growth.
We also worked with the Humber Local Enterprise Partnership to develop the Humber’s Clean Growth Strategy and we are partners with the University of Hull in an ambitious project to make the university campus carbon neutral by 2027.
The UK is a world leader in the offshore wind sector, largely due to what is happening in the Humber. The region is now building on that success with many projects to address the decarbonisation agenda, including the Zero Carbon Humber initiative. Led by partners including Drax Power, the UK’s biggest energy generator, this has the creation of a carbon capture cluster as a key pillar, alongside using offshore wind power to provide green hydrogen power.
Digital centre of excellence and innovation
In Goole our vision is to create a centre of excellence for the UK rail industry, focused on technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, digital analytics and robotics.
This is a connected and collaborative investment. We’re working with partners such as the UK Rail Research and Innovation Network (UKKRIN) and the Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education (BCREE), part of the University of Birmingham.
At its core will be a state-of-the-art trains factory, but it’s much more than that. It will create new opportunities, jobs and career development.
That’s why the innovation cluster being developed at the Goole site, known as the Rail Accelerator and Innovation Hub for Enterprise (RaisE), is so important.
This will attract the brightest and the best talent and projects to Goole. We’re setting the bar high, to deliver the solutions for the UK’s railways and rail infrastructure. Not only will we be building world class trains for Britain’s rail network, but could also manufacture future mainline suburban and intercity trains and utilise new technologies like battery and hydrogen power.