Since 2015 Highways England has been doing more in dedicated sectors right across the country thanks to Designated Funds. These are five ring-fenced budgets that are driving us to do more than the essentials, delivering better schemes that serve the whole community and not just road users.
The five funds target areas from air quality to water quality, cycling to buses, to innovative ideas using new techniques, materials and suppliers. We are aiming to make a real difference to people’s lives with these funds by making our network blend into the environment better, by making it safer to cross – for people and wildlife – and by protecting neighbours from noise and pollution.
We have made a good start, delivering improvements such as major flood protection at Catterick, noise barriers and home insulations across the country. We have unlocked five sites for home and job creation. We have improved cycle routes like the upgrade to Birchanger cycle path at Stansted, which now provides direct, safe access to and from the airport, college and local areas.
Our plans don’t stop there – we are more ambitious still. We want to develop more integrated cycle networks and bus facilities that support and encourage modal choice. We want to provide better wildlife habitat creation and catchment flood protection measures.
We want to innovate in what we do, how we do it and who we do it with. In short, we want to use designated funds to get better at the essentials and make the novel normal.
If you are interested in helping us realise our ambition, come and speak to us at Highways UK where we are holding a drop-in clinic on both days. Members of our team will be available to hear your ideas and suggestions for designated funds. We can provide a first review of any proposals you have, help discuss your next steps and answer any questions you have. You can find details of our funds and criteria for funding at www.highwaysengland.co.uk/designated-funds
Vinita Hills is Highways England’s Designated Funds Director. Vinita will be presenting some of work Highways England has achieved through Designated Funds at the Highways England Theatre on 7 November at 12pm.
Vinita Hill – Designated Funds Director, Highways England
The strategic road network in England connects businesses, families and friends. Its 4,300 miles help ensure our supermarket shelves are well stocked, and allow families to enjoy their holidays at destinations across the country. And upgrades to the network can help unlock land for new homes and jobs.
Unsurprisingly it takes an army of people to keep that network safe and reliable for the four million journeys it carries every day.
Among those are engineers, people whose work plays a crucial role in the future of the network.
The country needs an extra 20,000 engineering graduates a year and that’s why Highways England is taking part in the Year of Engineering campaign, which aims to inspire young people to consider engineering as a rewarding career. Highways England is looking for a continuing pipeline of young engineers to deliver the multi-billion investment plans for our motorways and major A-roads, improving lives and making a positive difference to the world.
We have invited 75 students from three schools across Birmingham and the Black Country to visit us at Highways UK. The aim is for them to experience first-hand what we do by taking part in discovery trails around selected exhibits and then having ‘big conversations’ with senior leaders. So far we have had 20 exhibitors on board to work with us. But there’s more to be done to engage our future engineers, can you help keep the momentum going?
We will start the visit by hosting a briefing section to explain what the highways sector has to offer before providing the students with a series of tasks which will involve engaging with exhibitors across Highways UK. Our own graduates and apprentices will act as group hosts, a perfect testimony to encourage the young students. The visit will end with a structured hour back in the theatre with some of our senior executives.
We hope that running such an activity such as this, will bring benefits to both the schools and our sector by:
· Giving young people an opportunity to explore the reality of working in the Highways sector
· Giving businesses the opportunity to showcase innovation and new technologies and inspire young people from diverse backgrounds to explore career opportunities in the sector
· Letting senior leaders meet and hear about the aspirations and interests of a diverse group of pupils
· Giving pupils access to senior leaders and to have big conversations
· Giving students an ‘experience’ and memories and information on job opportunities the sector has to offer
The Year of Engineering theme for November will be “Tomorrow’s Engineers” and it is also Tomorrow’s Engineers Week during Highways UK. So there’s no better time to consider engineering, which is a challenging and rewarding profession.
We want to work with our suppliers to bring young people face to face with our work. So they can see first-hand what we do, the range of jobs on offer, and the difference we make to people’s lives. We want our innovation and technology partners to do the same.
The Year of Engineering is a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate the huge contribution that engineering makes to our country in order to encourage young people to join the profession. The campaign is looking for fun and innovative ways to bring engineering to life and reach young people including under-represented groups, painting a positive picture of an exciting industry that makes real improvements to people’s lives.
We all need to showcase the breadth of roles, good pay, the potential for travel, and the vocational and academic routes into engineering that make it accessible. We must show off the wide range of jobs, the technological and design creativity and innovation that goes into modern roads. We must reach people of all backgrounds and cultures, so we widen our recruitment pool beyond a population that is currently more than 90% white and 90% male.
Highways UK presents a great opportunity to get involved – please do all you can to help us encourage the engineers of the future. In doing so we will broaden and build the future of our profession, which in turn will shape the infrastructure that supports all our lives.
For more information about the Year of Engineering, visit:
Mike Wilson is Highways England’s Chief Highways Engineer, and also Executive Director Safety, Engineering and Standards
Mike Wilson – Chief Highways Engineer, and Executive Director Safety, Engineering and Standards, Highways England