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Apprenticeships are essential for decommissioning the UK’s nuclear sites

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NDA's mission 2015 to 2120
NDA's mission 2015 to 2120

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

Over 1,300 apprentices trained across the NDA estate since 2005. Over 600 currently in training.
Over 1,300 apprentices trained across the NDA estate since 2005. Over 600 currently in training.

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

Grace Draper wins NDA sponsored award for National Nuclear Apprentice of the Year
Grace Draper wins NDA sponsored award for National Nuclear Apprentice of the Year

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

See more news via Twitter #NAW2016

You can also watch our skills strategy video or read the transcript to understand more about NDA's work on skills that support UK's nuclear decommissioning.

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  1. Comment by Jean Llewellyn posted on

    The NDA has also demonstrated its commitment to Apprenticeships for the future of decommissioning by supporting its supply chain to attract and develop new talent. This has been achieved by the NDA working in partnership with the National Skills Academy for Nuclear (NSAN), by NDA funding the Supply Chain Apprentices for Nuclear (SCAN) programme (formerly called the Community Apprenticeship Scheme (CAS)) and NSAN developing and managing the SCAN programme on behalf of the NDA. This has led to an additional 244 apprentices recruited into the supply chain, providing an excellent new talent pipeline for the future of the nuclear industry.

    • Replies to Jean Llewellyn>

      Comment by Beccy Pleasant posted on

      Thanks for sharing this extra information, Jean. It's certainly important for the NDA to work in partnership with other organisations across the industry to make sure that the right people with the right skills are available at the right time and in the right place to decommission the UK's nuclear legacy sites now and in the future. Our mission covers 120 years and nuclear sites in various locations across the UK. Find out more via our our people and skills video on YouTube.