Press Release

Balfour Beatty joins with Flannery to launch best-in-class ‘Operator Skills Hub’

5 February 2021


Balfour Beatty Flannery, a partnership between Balfour Beatty and Flannery Plant Hire, today launches its Operator Skills Hub - a purpose-built facility in Birmingham offering innovative training programmes to inspire young people and upskill current plant operators in the UK.

With the construction and infrastructure industry rapidly scaling up to deliver some of the most ambitious schemes in history, the Operator Skills Hub is set to deliver the first Trailblazer Plant Operative Apprentices in 2021, aiming to support 30 young people in its first year.

The facility will also increase the retention of skilled operators, providing 200 supplementary courses to enhance existing knowledge and train over 500 operators in readiness for HS2.

Key in addressing the construction and infrastructure sectors significant skills shortage, the facility will utilise state-of-the-art training simulators as well as the latest semi-autonomous vehicles to prepare plant operators and apprentices for the modern-day, digitally-enabled construction site.  

Andy Ormerod, Managing Director of Balfour Beatty’s Plant and Fleet Services business, said: “With real and growing skills shortages across our industry, inspiring young people has never been more important. Our new Operator Skills Hub provides a unique offering - one that will revolutionise the way in which we upskill plant operators and equip them with modern, digitally enhanced tools to support a safer, more productive construction and infrastructure industry.

“Over the last year, we have been proud to partner with Flannery and collaborate with our peers, valued supply chain partners and local communities in order to create this truly immersive and exciting educational experience; providing a central resource to benefit major construction and infrastructure projects, such as HS2.”

Patrick Flannery, Managing Director Flannery Plant Hire explained: “As one of the largest providers of operated plant in the UK it is imperative that we are able to provide a consistent, quality training experience for operators. It is clear that as the industry continues to adopt and drive innovation, we have to engage operators, helping to retain our industries best talent and ensuring they have the tools to deliver value on-site.

“This purpose-built facility reflects our vibrant and evolving industry and seeing the first intake of the new Trailblazer Plant Operator Apprentices starting their careers here is hugely exciting.”

Mark Thurston, CEO of HS2 Ltd said: “As one of our key construction partners on Phase One of HS2, Balfour Beatty VINCI (BBV) expects to be one of the biggest recruiters in the West Midlands and Warwickshire over the next two years, with up to 7,000 skilled jobs required to complete its section of the HS2 route. These jobs emphasise the importance that HS2 is playing in Britain’s economic recovery from Covid-19. 

 “The Operator Skills Hub will play a vital role in ensuring local people have the opportunity to upskill in readiness for these employment opportunities on Britain’s new railway.”

Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “It’s brilliant that the Operator Skills Hub is now coming to fruition, enabling local people to gain the specific skills needed for new construction projects in the future. With major projects like HS2 getting underway in the region, it’s fantastic that dozens of apprentices will be coming through the hub this year, together with more than 200 people who will be benefiting from other training opportunities.

“This offers a great opportunity for young people and adults to gain practical training to start a new career in construction at a time when so many are looking for a route back into work. I’d like to thank Flannery Plant Hire and Balfour Beatty for their investment in the region, which will unquestionably help to get more people into work with improved skills.”



Media enquiries to:
Vivienne Dunn
Balfour Beatty
+44 (0)203 810 2345 | follow us @balfourbeatty

All non-media related enquiries should be directed to +44 (0)20 7216 6800 or

Notes to editors:

About Balfour Beatty:

  • Balfour Beatty ( is a leading international infrastructure group with 26,000 employees driving the delivery of powerful new solutions, shaping thinking, creating skylines and inspiring a new generation of talent to be the change-makers of tomorrow.  
  • We finance, develop, build, maintain and operate the increasingly complex and critical infrastructure that supports national economies and deliver projects at the heart of local communities. 
  • Over the last 111 years we have created iconic buildings and infrastructure all over the world including: the £1.5 billion A14 improvement scheme - Britain’s biggest road project; Hong Kong’s HK$5.5 billion world-class harbour theatre project for the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority; and the 12.5 mile $429 million North Metro Commuter Rail line in Colorado, US.
  • Balfour Beatty’s Plant and Fleet business provides in-house expert services covering a wide range of asset and equipment services. These services predominantly serve the internal needs of the Balfour Beatty UK customers but also serve selected external customers.
  • Plant and Fleet Services also provides an in-house dedicated Mobilisation Hub which ensures all Balfour Beatty projects are mobilised in an efficient consistent manner and therefore freeing up Project Management staff to focus on their projects and customers.
  • Balfour Beatty’s Plant and Fleet business offer safe, efficient and innovative plant and vehicle solutions for its customers, which include; 700 HGV’s, tower/crawler cranes and piling equipment, suction excavators and sweepers, modular accommodation, specialist overhead line and gas & water assets, fire safety equipment and services.
  • Every day, plant and vehicles are provided through long term strategic partnerships supported by UK hire and help desks. These services cover; 6,000 cars and light commercial vehicles, 100,000 annual supply of smaller plant ,tools and items construction site equipment, excavation and earthworks equipment, driver and plant training, site mobilisation services, vehicle compliance and operator license assurance.

About Flannery Plant Hire:

  • Flannery Plant Hire (OVAL) Ltd was incorporated in 1972 by Patrick Flannery. From the original base adjacent to the Oval cricket ground the business has grown rapidly. Now Flannery Plant Hire operates from a purpose-built Head Office next to Wembley Stadium, with a network of six depots in Newport, Birmingham, Manchester, Aberdeen and Dublin.
  • A family business, people stand at the centre of the Flannery proposition, providing excellence in service, plant standards and safety. By listening to clients’ specific requirements, keeping abreast of the latest legislation and maintaining a relentless level of investment, the company has an unrivalled record of delivering quality and value.
  • This investment drives our sustainable credentials; a modern fleet in excess of 3,500 units, 35 delivery vehicles and 80 fitters covering sites across the UK 24 hours-a-day, 365 days-a-year. On a typical day between 850 and 900 of our operators are on-site working. With an enviable database of trusted operators who are CPCS certified and machine and company inducted, Flannery are in a unique position as 75% of our enviable database have worked for us before.
  • As our respected manufacturers, including Caterpillar, Hitachi, Komatsu and JCB continue to develop technology, Flannery continues to innovate, finding ways to turn data into meaningful analysis allowing customers to make hire decisions that deliver the most effective, reliable solution for them.

Vivienne Dunn

Senior Media & PR Manager

Welcome to the Operator Skills Hub


Welcome to the Operator Skills Hub

Established in 2021, the Operator Skills Hub provides innovative, future-focussed training solutions for plant operators in the UK construction and infrastructure sector. This video showcases the best-in-class plant operator training available, that will help address the construction and infrastructure sectors skill shortage and provide operators with the skills to deliver efficiently on modern-day, digitally enabled projects.