City chamber chief laments engineering college closure

The impending closure of a Doncaster college which was established to train HS2 rail engineers has come under fire from the city’s chamber of trade.

The National College for Advanced Transport and Infrastructure (NCATI) will shut in July due to low student numbers.

Its closure will mean the loss of 42 jobs and about 170 students will be transferred to other institutions.

The college was launched in 2017 to train students in the skills to work on HS2 and other big infrastructure schemes.

Doncaster Chamber CEO, Dan Fell, told the BBC that the college had suffered due to the Government’s confused policy on HS2.

He said about 10,000 people were employed in the rail sector in Doncaster, but indecision over HS2 had “hobbled” the college from the start.

“Probably first and foremost is the flip-flopping we’ve seen from Government on HS2 as a project,” he said.

He added the decision was not a “fatal blow” to the city’s economy, but was a “very unwelcome and untimely kick in the shins.”

“We’ve seen our airport close its doors, we’ve had a near miss on our bid for a new hospital and a near miss on our bid for the Great British Rail headquarters,” he said.

Confirming in April that the college’s operations would be wound down by 31 July, interim college principal and CEO, Lowell Williams, said: “This decision follows a robust consultation process with our staff, learners, employer partners, and other stakeholders, during which we explored several different ideas and suggestions for the future of the college.

“Unfortunately, we have been unable to identify a sustainable future for NCATI as a direct deliverer of education, and therefore we have made the difficult decision to discontinue delivery of learning.

“Sadly, this does mean that the college will now be following up voluntary severance applications received from staff during the consultation process. I envisage staff will be leaving the college in the period of May through to October 2023.

“On behalf of the board, I would like to say how very much we regret the outcome of the consultation process.”