Even though NDA sites are heading for eventual closure, the UK’s ageing nuclear workforce will lead to a shortfall in the medium term. There will also be a demand for skills to deal with future closures of sites in the current global nuclear fleet. In addition, skills are needed for new build and regional economies. The NDA will over time face increased competition for skills, and therefore it is important to plan ahead and to continue to grow our own.
What the government is doing
The government is committed to supporting 3 million new apprenticeships in England between 2015 and 2020, and promoting high standards. In addition, apprenticeship levies will encourage greater utilisation of apprenticeships in the workplace.
This will include traditional apprenticeship routes and levels, but also innovative ‘trailblazer’ apprenticeships being designed to meet the specific needs of business.
Degree apprenticeships are also being introduced. These enable young people, who might previously have gone to university, to study for a degree whilst working and earning. The intent is that these individuals will be better able to contribute to their businesses, because their learning is embedded in the workplace. The individual learner will avoid the burden of university fees, and gain their degree ‘debt free’, a win-win outcome.
These new approaches should provide options for people who would not have traditionally considered apprenticeships.
What the NDA and its supply chain is doing
The sites across NDA’s estate have a long tradition of training young people. In some cases this dates back 60 years, particularly at Sellafield, which, with a 10,000-strong workforce, is the largest and most challenging nuclear complex in Europe.
An important part of the NDA’s people strategy (incorporating skills and capability) is support for apprenticeships both in its Site Licence Companies (SLCs) and in its supply chain businesses. NDA works with schools and colleges to promote pathways towards apprenticeships, as well as celebrating apprentices’ successes through sponsoring awards.
Apprenticeships lead to a range of exciting career paths within the NDA estate and wider nuclear industry.
Among the achievements in the NDA estate are:
- more than 1,300 apprentices trained across the estate since the NDA was established in 2005
- more than 600 apprentices currently in training across NDA’s estate
- NDA apprentices have been recruited in all parts of the UK, from northern Scotland to Wales and the south coast of England
- in 2005, there were 5 types of apprentice training courses available. Now, there are 17 different options for young people
- disciplines range from traditional engineering crafts such as fabrication, welding, electrical and instrumentation, mechanical and design to newer areas such as project management, which has recently been introduced at Sellafield
- in line with the government’s 2015 commitments, Sellafield is offering some of the UK’s first-ever apprenticeships at degree level: 18 recruits started last year
- Sellafield will achieve a record 550 apprentices in training when it welcomes a further 165 new recruits in September 2016
- Sellafield Ltd and nuclear partner companies have led on, or contributed to a number of Nuclear Trailblazer apprenticeships since 2014, developing new employer-led standards
- Sellafield became the 100th member of the 5% club, a commitment to ensure that 5% of its workforce are undergoing formalised training at some level, from apprenticeships to graduates
- Harwell, one of the NDA’s smaller sites, has recruited 2 electrical apprentices for the first time in many years
- Dounreay recently celebrated 60 years of taking on apprentices. In 2015, 23 young people were recruited onto a range of courses
- Magnox sites took on 25 advanced-level apprentices between 2012 and 2015
- the government is committed to supporting 3 million new apprenticeship starts in England between 2015 and 2020
Last week, NDA sponsored the #NuclearSkillsAwards award for National Nuclear Apprentice of the Year. David Vineall, NDA's HR Director, was thrilled to present the prestigious award to Rolls Royce's Grace Draper, who also won Design Apprentice of the Year.
For more information on the types of apprenticeships that you can apply for in the nuclear decommissioning sector, see: Nuclear decommissioning apprenticeships
This week is National Apprenticeship Week
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