Supplier skills

Our Supplier Skills Programme

Our Supplier Skills Team (SST) work in partnership with the supply chain to address skills shortages in the transport and engineering sectors. The team helps suppliers to employ people with the right skills and focuses on addressing under-representation in the industry. This allows us to create employment opportunities and contribute to economic regeneration within London and across the UK.

Since the project was initiated in 2009, the SST has supported the supply chain to create over 5,500 apprenticeships and 5,000 jobs for unemployed Londoners.

Our Supplier Skills team

Established in 2009, the SST was created to ensure that we employ people with the right skills for our contracts and support the supply chain to deliver successfully. The SST do this by supporting the business through each stage of the procurement process, which includes:

  • Implementing and evaluating contract requirements
  • Supporting suppliers from the beginning to the end of their contract
  • Working with suppliers on a voluntary basis to help them maximise the skill and employment opportunities which may arise while working on one of our contracts
  • Helping suppliers to secure government funding for apprenticeship programmes
  • Identifying appropriate learning frameworks and training providers
  • Helping job-seeking candidates via a partnership with the Department for Work and Pensions' (DWP) work programme

Using its relationships with a wide network of charities and employability programmes, the Supplier Skills team also address the under-representation of women and people from BAME backgrounds in the industry and provides training and employment opportunities for groups such as ex-offenders and ex-military personnel.

Strategic Labour Needs and Training

Strategic Labour Needs and Training (SLNT) is part of our Responsible Procurement programme. When suppliers are invited to tender, they are asked to outline how they plan to incorporate at least one SLNT output for every two million (services) or three million (works/infrastructure)

By embedding the following SLNT outcomes into supplier contract requirements, we aim to generate skills and influence employment outcomes:

SLNT output

  • One apprenticeship start - 1.5 output points for higher level apprenticeships
  • One social mobility job start
  • 20 days of industry placement or 10 days if targeted to a social mobility candidate
  • 20 days of school engagement activities

At least 50% of SLNT outputs on each contract must be an apprenticeship or a workless job start to make sure that new entrants gain access to the industry on each project.

Suppliers also run placements and go in to schools to talk about what they do. This helps to spark interest and encourage understanding in young people about science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM) subjects, and their role in the transport sector.

A short film about our entry features two apprentices, who had previously been in youth offender institutes, completing the Route into Work programme and moving into roles with Telent and Cleshar.

Skills Shortages

Transport and infrastructure sectors in the UK are facing significant skills shortages. HM Treasury's National Infrastructure Plan for Skills, published in September 2015 forecast an anticipated shortage of 55,000 skilled workers by 2020. To address this, the Department of Transport issued its Transport Infrastructure Skills Strategy in January 2016, which committed to the creation of 30,000 transport infrastructure apprenticeships between 2016 and 2020. We aim to make a significant contribution to this target. 

Recent Activity


Virtual Apprenticeship Fair

In response to the Covid-19 crisis, the Supplier Skills Team took their annual apprenticeship fair online. 

Twelve online sessions were held throughout National Apprenticeship Week with various key suppliers as well as HS2 Ltd, its supply chain and other members of the GLA Group family. 290 people attended the various sessions where they heard more about the 200-plus apprenticeships on offer and had a chance to ask questions to recruiting managers. 

The London Transport Museum hosted four soft-skills sessions, designed to help candidates stand out in the application process. 

The fair was a great success and the team will be following up with suppliers to measure progress and outcomes resulting from the events.


Apprenticeship Fair

The Supplier Skills Team hosted the annual apprenticeship fair on 3 February as part of National Apprenticeship Week. Over 730 attendees were invited to tour 40 stands at the fair and discuss more than 500 available apprenticeship opportunities with our supply chain partners and those of other transport body clients HS2, Heathrow Airport, Network Rail and the National Skills Academy for Rail (NSAR).

The outcome was fruitful, with 1,771 expressions of interest with suppliers, who invited interested attendees to apply for their vacancies.

TfL Commissioner, Mike Brown, and Nusrat Ghani MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Transport, opened the event which was held on the first day of National Apprenticeship Week. 

Attendees also heard from a panel of current transport apprentices from Morgan Sindall, Cleshar, Bombardier and WSP who spoke about their experiences in the industry so far.

For the first time, there was even an advice area which held interactive personal development workshops to help attendees focus on their strengths and build confidence for interviews as well as receive one-to-one CV and career advice from an advisor.

The fair is aimed at all Londoners seeking employment and looks to inspire and engage them in the range of exciting apprenticeship opportunities available in the transportation and infrastructure sectors.

There's always a strong focus on attracting under-represented groups to the fair and we work with a number of referral partners and schools to reach the widest pool of potential apprenticeship candidates as possible.


Industry Collaboration - Get into Transport

The Social Mobility Working Group, which forms a part of the Strategic Transport Apprenticeship Taskforce (STAT), was set up to address the issue of social mobility in the transport sector, and to ensure businesses are doing all they can to ensure more equal access to the workplace.

In 2019 Transport for London, HS2, Heathrow and The National Skills Academy for Rail partnered to support under represented and disadvantaged groups to access employment opportunities in their supply chains.  

In total, 19 work experience opportunities were offered with 7 different employers.

The employers included:

  • Morgan Sindall
  • MTR Elizabeth Line
  • Mace Dragados
  • Align
  • WSP
  • Heathrow Express
  • National Skills Academy for Rail (NSAR)

The pre-employment programme consisted of a two-week training programme covering general employability skills and a two-week work placement. Appointments were also arranged for the candidates to attend a dressing and coaching session with either Smart Works (female candidates) or Suited & Booted (male candidates).