Exclusive: IHE to establish national highway engineering academy

The Institute of Highway Engineers (IHE) is launching a national highway engineering academy in 2016.

IHE chief executive Richard Hayes said the new virtual academy would focus on providing engineers and technicians with the skill set and expertise that was vitally needed by the highways industry.

He said: “The IHE is alarmed by the skills shortage within the highways sector and we’re taking action to address it. The aim of IHE’s new national highway engineering academy is to train a dedicated workforce with the specialist skills and expertise the industry needs to build the UK’s road network.”

The IHE met with the All Party Parliamentary Group on Highway Maintenance yesterday (28 October 2015) with the idea receiving full support from the group.

The virtual academy will be hosted by the IHE, who intend to work alongside others to offer a full spectrum of training opportunities.

Mr Hayes added: “The government’s National Infrastructure Plan for Skills published last month highlighted the scale of the UK’s projected skills gap in engineering.

“According to the report, the total projected expenditure in roads from 2015/16 to 2020/21 is forecast at £30 billion. With investment rising to nearly £6 billion per annum by the end of the decade, this equates to a workforce of over 60,000 people.

“New technologies such as smart motorways have also been a game changer for the highways industry which has historically drawn on traditional construction skills.

“This has resulted in the need for a broader range of engineering and technical skills to deliver the future investment plans. IHE’s academy will be offering engineers and technicians the opportunity to refine and upgrade their skill set to make them even more employable within the highways industry.”

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Tristan Awlyn-Clark

This is definitely a great start and if the cost of the courses isn’t too high it may help people in one discipline cross over to another, speed up their career progress and generally provide more options. Don’t get me wrong thats great BUT what often happens is potential candidate is told ‘thats great but what EXPERIENCE do you have?’. The industry does rather expect people to just be fully qualified and experienced without either taking a educated risk based on what they’ve achieved (their potential), or putting in some effort / time to get someone to where they want them. The training and progress of members of any community, such as ours, should be a partnership its often not. If that partnership cannot / or isn’t built with your employer the ‘peer review’ element of our qualification/certification system WILL fail you. You cannot bypass it if things are unfortunately not working for you, you cannot do something else instead. You may get pushed out of the industry and potential or experience will be lost. Great start but so much more needs to be done.