Press release

Hancock: New Nuclear College will equip local young people with the right skills for the job

A new National College for Nuclear (NCfN) will train future workers and develop world class skills in the UK’s thriving nuclear industry.

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The college, a partnership between government and nuclear employers, led by EDF Energy and Sellafield Ltd, will be based at 2 hubs in Somerset and West Cumbria, close to major sites of nuclear investment.

The 2 hubs will provide a reactor simulator and virtual reality engineering learning facilities, offering high-tech specialist training to meet the skills needs of nuclear industry employers across the UK.

Business Minister Matthew Hancock said:

It’s expected the nuclear industry will need 30,000 new employees over the next decade – and the Nuclear College will equip young people with the skills they need.

Creating jobs and opportunities for local people is front and centre of our long term economic plan to secure a brighter future for Britain.

The NCfN will work with local schools, colleges and universities, such as University of Bristol and University of Cumbria, setting rigorous training standards and providing inspiration to local young people to take up careers in nuclear.

Funding will come from the £80 million committed by government towards the 7 new National Colleges for industry, and be matched by cash and in-kind investment from employers.

Sellafield Ltd Human Resources Director, Colin Reed said:

Sellafield Ltd is delighted to be part of the National College for Nuclear. The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) and Sellafield Ltd are making substantial investments to grow the economy and develop West Cumbria as a global centre of nuclear excellence.

The college will provide a source of qualification and curriculum development to feed the skills pipelines for the nuclear sector and its supply chain.

Vincent de Rivaz CBE, Chief Executive, EDF Energy, said:

EDF Energy is proud to be at the heart of the UK’s new National College for Nuclear. The National College will play a vital role in developing skills across the industry, underpinning the UK’s nuclear renaissance. The industry needs high quality vocational skills so that we can continue to operate the existing nuclear fleet safely for longer, as well as for taking forward plans for the UK’s first new nuclear power station in a generation. The National College for Nuclear will help ensure the UK has the right skills to participate fully in the global nuclear market.

The college will support the government’s ambition to meet 90% of the sector’s skills needs from a UK workforce, putting Britain in prime position to benefit from the estimated £930 billion being invested in the nuclear industry worldwide over the next 2 decades. It will also support a more diverse nuclear workforce, and commitments to increase the proportion of women in the sector to 40% by 2030.

With major investment underway in new and existing nuclear power stations, the sector forecasts that its demand for skilled staff at all levels will increase by 40% from 70,000 to 98,000 workers.

The new college is part of a wider plan, set out in the new Nuclear Skills Strategy from the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills, Department for Energy & Climate Change and Ministry of Defence, to meet this skills challenge. Other initiatives include creating new Degree Apprenticeships in nuclear.

Notes to Editors:

  1. The initial education providers involved in the college will be Lakes College and the University of Cumbria, working with the Cumbria hub and Bridgwater College and University of Bristol, working with the South West hub
  2. Other Nuclear Employers are already a key part of the planned wider governance of the National College and the opportunity for new members to be invited to join the board of the National College for Nuclear is in place.
  3. The National College and the government will consider future expansion to other hub sites in the UK.
  4. A full financial business case is being developed by the National College for Nuclear and is expected to be agreed with government in Spring 2015.
  5. The college has the support of the Nuclear Industry Council (NIC) Skills Workstream.
  6. The 9 initial Degree Apprenticeships announced this year (2015) are in chartered surveying, electronic systems engineering, aerospace engineering, aerospace software development, defence systems engineering, laboratory science, nuclear, power engineering and public relations.
  7. Apprentices will split their time between normal university study and gain a full bachelor’s or master’s degree from a top university while earning a wage and getting real on-the-job experience in their chosen profession.
  8. The National College for Nuclear joins 6 other National Colleges in being formally announced. The other colleges are the National College for Advanced Manufacturing, Digital Skills, Wind Energy, High Speed Rail, Creative and Cultural Industries and Onshore Oil and Gas. The government will provide competitive, time-limited maintenance scholarships (£5 million) to support the very strongest candidates from across the country to attend the new National Colleges in 2016 to 2017.
  9. The £80 million of government capital funding available to support the development of National Colleges is in 2015 to 2016 and 2016 to 2017.
  10. Secretary of State for Business Vince Cable set out in a 23 April 2014 Cambridge speech the agenda for addressing the high level skills gap, to ensure vocational training options are as attractive to young people as traditional academic higher education. Higher Apprenticeships expansion, National Colleges, and exploring funding options (including loans expansion, and maintenance for further education) are key to this agenda.
  11. See the nuclear skills strategy at ‘Sustaining our Nuclear Skills’
Published 20 March 2015