HS2 – recruitment bonanza or environmental catastrophe?

After years of debate, the first shovels finally broke ground on HS2 – the new High Speed rail network between London, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds – in 2020.

One of the major touted benefits of the project is the amount of contract engineering recruitment, in particular, and job creation in general, which will go along with it.

From civil engineer jobs to construction site technicians and managers to Health and Safety Engineer recruitment, hopes are high that thousands of opportunities will be created.

But HS2 has also courted controversy. The cost has already ballooned – from £36 billion to well over £100 billion. Environmental protection groups are horrified at the planned route of the line.

So, what is HS2? Recruitment bonanza or environmental catastrophe?

The recruitment agency’s case for HS2

From an engineering recruitment agency’s point of view, HS2 is already generating opportunities. The project has called for widespread temporary construction staff recruitment and created many project engineer jobs.

It’s also important to remember that HS2 is being delivered alongside a massive enhancement of the UK’s existing rail system. This includes electrification, building new stations and new lines and reopening old ones.

All of this opens up new contract installation engineer and reliability engineer jobs as well as many other positions.

Other arguments for HS2

By upgrading the existing line and eliminating non-stop trains, the goal of HS2 is to open up capacity on the whole UK rail network. This new capacity can be spent on more freight and shorter commuter and interurban services.

In turn, it’s argued that this will mean fewer cargo trucks and vehicles on the roads as comparatively cleaner rail transport takes more weight. The speed of the trains may also compare favourably with UK domestic flights, reducing carbon emissions still further.

The HS2 debate

But for all these positives, HS2 has also drawn heavy criticism from many quarters:

HS2 environmental impact – some of the UK’s most ancient woodland will be affected either by HS2 itself or the works needed to build it.

The cost of HS2 – has already nearly tripled, and ground has barely been broken.

The impact of COVID-19 – it’s been argued that with huge numbers of people working from home during – and likely long after – the pandemic, HS2 may be less necessary than it previously was.

Jobs created by HS2 come from elsewhere – it’s been suggested that jobs created by HS2 are essentially being pulled from other projects.

Recruitment bonanza or environmental catastrophe?

There is a continuing outcry against the environmental destruction which the HS2 line could lead to. But there’s no denying the number of civil and structural engineer jobs and the many other opportunities which will be created by it.

There is also the possibility that new rail links might lead to new opportunities – everything from sales manager to temporary manufacturing staff recruitment – in previously unknown places.

But what is clear is that the HS2 project has now been begun. It’s unlikely to be stopped now. Who knows what the world will look like by the project’s slated 2030 finish date?

It looks like we’ll need to stay tuned and find out.

Are you looking for a job in a technical or engineering field?

Let’s talk. Ernest Gordon is a specialist engineering recruitment agency. We match great candidates up and down the UK with their ideal role every single day.