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Wed June 23 2021

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Blunkett to lead Heathrow skills taskforce

30 Jun 16 Heathrow Airport has appointed former education secretary David Blunkett to chair a new skills taskforce.

Heathrow is hoping for a green light to start third runway construction
Heathrow is hoping for a green light to start third runway construction

The Heathrow Skills Taskforce will only begin its work when and if the government gives approval for the airport’s expansion.

If the third runway does get the go-ahead, Lord Blunkett will work with the Heathrow supply chain to ensure the skills required are developed across the UK during the construction phase. His group will seek to ensure that local people get the right teaching, employment opportunities, training and career progression, and make Heathrow “a role model for social mobility and diversity”.

The taskforce will begin its work as soon as the government grants approval for Heathrow's £18bn expansion, and will sit for 18 months. It will be comprised of 12 members with expertise in employability, education and skills, and young people.

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Lord Blunkett said: “Too often in the UK we make large-scale investments in projects that deliver short-term results which do not benefit and include the wider population, or the long term needs of the country. There is no more room for lost opportunities. Our national infrastructure projects must go hand-in-hand with learning and training opportunities for the workforce of the future.

“This is what I have worked for throughout my years of public service, and why I am so pleased to Chair the Heathrow Skills Taskforce. We will be ready to capitalise on the huge training and education potential of Heathrow expansion immediately following the government’s decision and deliver a new generation of home grown talent with world-class skills.”

As an additional part of its lobbying efforts, Heathrow Airport also commissioned research from the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, which found that Heathrow expansion would increase the number of construction workers on London projects overall by 3% and reduce youth unemployment in the London Borough of Hillingdon by 5%.

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