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A 120-year mission: securing the skills needed for UK nuclear decommissioning

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In the video below, we explain the issues around ensuring that we have people with the right skills, in the right place at the right time to deliver our long-term mission. We describe what we've achieved so far and who we've worked with to make this happen, as well as what remains to be done.

Please watch the video or read the transcript below to understand more about NDA's work on skills that support UK's nuclear decommissioning.

The consultation on the draft of our revised strategy is open until 15 February 2016, and we are keen that anyone interested in skills for the nuclear industry takes a look at the People (incorporating skills and capability) section and shares their thoughts with us.

My name’s Natasha Hanson. I’m Head of HR Strategy and Delivery for the NDA.


We have a lengthy mission to deliver and we need people with the right, in the right place at the right time.


In some places, the mission is for the next 14 years, in other areas of the estate it’s for the next 120 years. So we’re looking short-term, medium-term and obviously to invest for the longer term to make sure that the skills are available for us.

My name is Beccy Pleasant. I’m the Head of Skills and Talent for the NDA, and the role is basically responsible for ensuring that the NDA, its subsidiaries and its Site Licence Companies have the skills and capabilities it needs to deliver its mission.


The first issue is that we’ve got an aging workforce. People have been in the industry a while and those people are starting to think about retirement now, so we need to replace those skills.


The other issue we’ve got is that STEM subjects, more recently, haven’t been very popular with school students so we haven't got the same pipeline pumped full of people with the basic level science, technology and engineering and maths skills to be the future workforce. So we need to address that to try and promote STEM subjects for younger people.


So the NDA, via its last people strategy has delivered a number of skills interventions, from very young children through to experienced employees of the organisation.


At the primary school level, a lot of our Site Licence Companies have programmes of activities that deal with primary school children focusing on science, technology, engineering and maths in primary school age children.


The NDA has worked with the National Skills Academy for Nuclear (NSAN), in developing a programme called Energy Foresight which is aimed at GCSE level students, again looking at applying the science, technology, engineering and maths curriculum to the workplace, making them understand it, making it more practically applied.


Then if we move on to apprenticeships, the NDA have been heavily involved with investing in apprenticeships more recently particularly, and Sellafield have taken a leading role in developing some new standards for apprenticeships to make sure that apprentices that come through the system are more work ready, more able to do the jobs that the site need and that the industry need.


And at the same time we’re developing a degree level apprenticeship programme, so people who perhaps want to go on and do a degree but would rather do that whilst working and earning, ultimately can do so.


The NDA sponsored and part-funded the nucleargraduates programme, which is a UK-wide, renowned, graduate level programme, which takes degree level students into the industry and develops them through a programme of secondments, involving a whole range of different organisations from different parts of the sector to make sure that they’re fully rounded and understand the full nature of the industry. And then at the end they are much more flexible and adaptable and are able to apply those skills where the industry needs them.


We’ve invested in sponsoring doctorate students, sponsoring masters students.


So over the duration of the last NDA people strategy, we’ve invested quite heavily in a number of infrastructure projects to make sure that the educational provision is there, and ready to deliver for the people that we need to be our employees of the future.


And equally we’ve invested in university and research kind of facilities, so here at DCF (Dalton Cumbria Facility), the NDA have been a co-sponsor of these facilities.


The NDA work in conjunction with a lot of other organisations to deliver this; the NDA itself are a small organisation, we deliver through our partner organisations. That includes the subsidiaries and SLCs (Site Licence Companies), but also nationwide skills bodies and skills councils.


So there are 3 main strategic priorities of our future strategy: the first one is about attraction of the industry. The second point is making sure that the skills gaps, those pinch points that we’ve talked about before, are being addressed through a range of products and interventions in the industry to make sure that we’re properly targeting the skills gaps that we’ve identified.


And finally, when we’ve got those people in, we need to make sure that we are appropriately mobilising those people, facilitating their transfer between organisations and between roles, to ensure that we’re not having to re-train people constantly, that we’re making best use of the skills we’ve got available.


My question for the stakeholders is: have we properly identified the key strategic priorities in the strategy? We’ve identified 3. Are those the right 3 you would expect to see?

Online engagement via web chat

If you have questions or comments, you can log in to a web chat. We have scheduled 2 sessions where our specialists will be online to answer any queries you might have:

11:30 Friday 29 January (1 hour)

16:00 Monday 8 February (1 hour)

Feel free to submit questions beforehand via and we will provide answers during the live web chats.

Transcripts will be available after each session.

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