Valerie Todd: Crossrail's director of resources

Published: 13 Aug 2009

Since the £16bn Crossrail project was granted royal assent in July last year, the team behind it has been trying to calculate exactly how many jobs it could provide to the construction sector.

The project could provide 70,000 construction jobs throughout its life, with about 14,000 working on the scheme at its peak.

Building4jobs caught up with Valerie Todd, Crossrail’s director of talent and resources.

What steps is Crossrail taking to train people for the project and ensure their safety?

We realised early on that there was a need to train people through a tunnelling academy [to be designed by Capita Symonds and built in Newham, east London] so we can ensure safety standards are as high as possible. All underground workers will be required to have a safety passport, which Crossrail is developing with ConstructionSkills to be linked in with the CSCS card. It will be geared towards working with boring machines, spray concrete and being in confined spaces.

What courses will be on offer at the academy?

Short courses to train people up quickly. We estimate that 1,000 workers will undertake them between now and 2015. There will also be an apprenticeship module that we are developing with ConstructionSkills and the British Tunnelling Society. We expect that to be finished in October.

When will the academy open its doors?

It should start running from spring 2010, with the full offering of courses available by the autumn.

Crossrail has pledged to take on 400 apprentices – how will you ensure this happens?

The supply chain working on the project will have training targets written into their contracts.

Will Crossrail be able to accommodate apprentices from the Olympic site who have not completed their training?

We’re working with the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) and the London Apprenticeship Task Force (LATF) on this to make sure there are opportunities for those who have partly completed their training. On the Olympics there are a lot of people learning finishing trades, and they need to move on to projects that are at a similar stage of development. Because of the time gap with Crossrail, this project might not be the ideal place, but the NAS and the LATF can place them on the most suitable job.

How has the recession changed Crossrail’s approach to recruitment?

Even though there are more people available to work, it is now more difficult to reach those furthest from the employment market.

So how are you trying to reach the long-term unemployed?

To assist our contractors and local people find work, irrespective of whether they are recently unemployed or have been out of the job market for some time, Crossrail is working closely with the LDAto put in place a job brokerage and basic skills training service to assist in finding and creating job-ready candidates for vacancies that will arise on the project in the future. Relay London is the organisation currently used by the ODA for a similar purpose and Crossrail has expressed to the LDA our desire for it to continue that or a similar arrangement for us.

Read the full article in Building Working life: finding 3,000 people to tunnel for Crossrail.

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