THE NATIONAL COLLEGE FOR NUCLEAR
The UK is entering a new stage in its nuclear history. Worldwide investment in new nuclear is set to hit a staggering £930 billion across the next 20 years, with 12 new reactors planned for the UK alone – the first at Hinkley Point in Somerset and Oldbury in South Gloucestershire*. Add to this a growing decommissioning portfolio, plus the delivery of the Successor class nuclear deterrent, and the result is a huge surge of nuclear investment that will create thousands of jobs, drive regional growth and build the UK’s supply chain capability.
In the 20 years since the UK’s last nuclear power station was built, we have seen rapid technological advances in nuclear power generation, medicine and defence. At the same time, the nuclear workforce is ageing and attrition rates are high - there is an urgent need to build a qualified and experienced skills base capable of meeting the demands of the new nuclear sector, or risk over-reliance on foreign expertise.
The challenges are significant. Much of the UK’s existing expertise lies in operation and decommissioning rather than construction. The nuclear industry will not only need to reskill its workers but also compete with other sectors to attract the talent it requires. It will also need to increase the proportion of women employed in nuclear if it is to have any hope of securing the sheer volume of engineers required to deliver the UK’s new nuclear roll-out.
The flagship National College for Nuclear (NCfN) forms a cornerstone of the Government’s response. A partnership between industry, national regulators, skills bodies and training providers, it is set to revolutionise the way that training for the nuclear sector is delivered, whilst ensuring that the UK maintains its enviable global reputation for top quality, safe and reliable civil and defence operations, underpinned by a world-class regulatory regime and an expert workforce.
*Sustaining our Nuclear Skills – Department of Energy & Climate Change 2015