First group of local graduates on the road to success with Lower Thames Crossing project
National Highways has today (16 November 2022) announced that the first group of graduates on the ambitious Lower Thames Crossing project have started work, with all recruited from the local area.
The project – which will ease congestion and unlock growth by almost doubling road capacity across the Thames – aims to recruit almost half of its workforce from within 20-miles during construction of the new route.
The four new graduates, one from Thurrock, two from Kent and one from Redbridge, recently took up their roles following a local recruitment drive. The group have joined the team to support the project as it prepares for construction. All are taking part in National Highways’ three-year project management graduate programme, including leadership development and an Association for Project Management level 4 qualification.
The group are part of the project’s longer-term skills and employment programme that will see over 700 graduates, apprentices and trainees work on the project, and raise the skill levels of thousands of people and businesses, including futureproofing their workforce through a new digital Carbon Academy. Over the six years of construction, the project will provide work for more than 22,000 people.
Simrandeep Sunnar, Graduate for the Lower Thames Crossing and Thurrock resident: “Growing up in the area, I have seen first-hand how much a new crossing is needed, and the benefits it will bring. I was drawn to the scale of the project and the challenge of building it in a sustainable way, and the fact it’s on my doorstep made it a no brainer! The project management graduate programme is a perfect fit for me. I’m loving what I’m doing and encourage anyone thinking about a graduate programme to sign-up now so they don’t miss the opportunities that will come when the project gets going.”
Matt Palmer, Executive Director for the Lower Thames Crossing, said: “We are building future leaders through our early careers training programmes. The sustainable skills and experience these graduates, and the hundreds more to come, will gain will kick start their career and help them make a real difference to the local community, the broader construction industry and the UK economy.”
Chris Brodie, Chair of the South East Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “It’s great to hear that these local graduates have already started work. The LEP has always recognised how important it is that local people and businesses can benefit from such large projects happening in our area and it is great to see this becoming a reality. Not only does it offer graduates the chance to work on an important project, but it also bolsters our local communities and businesses through supply chains and supporting industries.”
The proposed Lower Thames Crossing is a new road connecting Kent and Essex that will double road capacity across the Thames east of London through the UK’s longest road tunnels. When it opens for traffic, it will ease congestion on the Dartford Crossing and improve journeys across the region. It will also unlock economic growth locally and nationally by creating a reliable new connection between the south east, midlands and the north that brings people closer to jobs and businesses closer to their customers and suppliers.
The main bulk of job roles will come during construction, if the project is given permission to go ahead, but people can register their interest in future job opportunities on the project’s website, including early careers, such as graduate places or apprenticeships and site or office based roles. Last month, National Highways released its Skills, Education and Employment Strategy detailing exactly how it will leave a genuine legacy within local communities and for the industry.
National Highways has submitted an application for a Development Consent Order for the Lower Thames Crossing to the Planning Inspectorate, that is now considering if the application will be taken forward to the next stage of the planning process. If consent is granted, construction is expected to start in 2024.