What a great week for Doncaster!
On Tuesday we finally received the news we had been hoping for when the Prime Minister announced Doncaster and Birmingham would be the home of the new National High Speed Rail College. This means the UK’s next generation of highly skilled rail engineers will be trained here in Doncaster, complementing our fantastic rail companies, which already employ around 6,000 and have contracts in place worth £2 billion over the next five years. This year alone Wabtec, based at the famous Doncaster Plant Works, have taken on their 1,000th employee and international rail company Rhomberg Sersa have moved their UK headquarters to the town.
Over 2,000 apprentices are expected to pass through the doors of the new college, giving young people in Doncaster a chance to get into well-paid engineering jobs that are in high demand. At the moment, one in four people in Doncaster earn less than the living wage and we are too reliant on employment in the public and retail sectors. I have said many times we need more highly skilled and well-paid jobs in Doncaster . This college will help build on our history in rail, engineering and manufacturing.
I am sure more companies will be attracted to Doncaster by the benefit of being among their supply chain and near a world-class engineering college. This is just the start. I want us to keep up the momentum we have created and will be looking to complement the college with other developments. Having earlier this year secured a new Enterprise Zone at Robin Hood Airport, with the capacity for 2,000 engineering and manufacturing jobs, Doncaster is well on the way to regaining its reputation as an important centre of industry. I want a new generation of engineering and manufacturing in Doncaster, and this major success is a significant piece of the jigsaw in achieving our plan.
As well as the rail college and the Enterprise Zone, we have secured £56m to spend on infrastructure projects to bring more jobs and growth. We have changed the rules to help more Doncaster companies win council contracts and since I became Mayor, we have created 483 new apprenticeships in less than 18 months.
These policies are starting to pay dividends and last week the council was announced as Local Authority of the Year at the Insider Property Industry Awards Yorkshire for what they said was our unrivalled commitment to development and support for business success.
That is a great testament to the work of our staff, partner organisations and businesses in Doncaster and across the region. It demonstrates the value of working together and looking beyond the boundaries of the borough. I am very grateful to everyone who has supported us. However, we will not sit back on our laurels. We must strive for more and we will be bringing forward further policies to support business growth.
* Ros Jones, Mayor of Doncaster