Centre of Excellence - Article shared from EDF November 2020 magazine

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This is an EDF article, shared from the November 2020 magazine.

The National College for Nuclear will provide a pipeline of nuclear skills essential to help the UK achieve Net Zero.

Alongside renewable energy, we believe nuclear has an important role to play in helping Britain to achieve its goal of Net Zero emissions by 2050. It’s why we’re investing heavily in new nuclear projects like Hinkley Point C in Somerset and the planned nuclear power station at Sizewell in Suffolk.

To secure the future of these projects, and safely decommission our current generation of power stations, we need a pipeline of talented individuals with the right nuclear skills and qualifications. That’s why EDF is one of two main backers (Sellafield Ltd. being the second) of the National College for Nuclear (NCfN). This centre of excellence opened in 2018 and its purpose is to produce rounded and capable professionals with the behaviours and technical know-how needed to deliver the UK’s nuclear plans for the coming decades.

A ‘cornerstone’ college
The government sees the NCfN as essential if the UK is to have skilled workers capable of addressing the challenges of a growing industry, one that’s set to hit a huge £930 billion across the next 20 years globally. Made up of two hubs, in Somerset and Cumbria, plus a growing national network of education providers, it has a roster of 872 students this academic year and has created almost 2,000 work-ready learners since it started. Its vision is to be the first choice for nationallyrecognised qualifications in the nuclear sector.

On a day-to-day basis, the college combines theoretical work with hands-on experience. At both hubs there are virtual reality rooms to provide students with experience of a nuclear environment, as well as engineering workshops and laboratories equipped with the latest technology. There are also simulated ‘restricted’ areas which give a detailed view of the work involved at a nuclear plant.

Earlier this year the college welcomed Development Director, Michelle Lambon-Wilks, to its senior team and she’s determined to take it from a fledgling start-up to become an integral part of the UK’s nuclear landscape. “We want to show employers like EDF and Sellafield Ltd. what we can offer,” she says. “We’re here for a reason and we need to speak to the people and companies we can make a difference to by creating work-ready learners.”

Partnership working
The business model is all about partnership working – with national regulators, skills bodies and training providers. The college works closely with industry too and its chairman is none other than EDF Project Lead, Steve Naylor. Steve says: "The National College for Nuclear is proud to support the UK’s national infrastructure strategy through the development of a pipeline of nuclear skills essential to help the UK achieve Net Zero."

Open for business
Michelle is eager to get the message out to employers that the college is open for business. “We’re here for all tiers of the industry,” she explains. “And we want to work with all those who are connected to the nuclear industry; from SMEs to the big players like EDF.” The government estimates that a surge of nuclear investment – from submarines to small modular reactors – will create up to 100,000 jobs over the next decade. That’s a big ask and the college will play a vital role in addressing the urgent need to build a qualified and experienced skills’ base capable of meeting the demands of this growing nuclear sector.

Interested in pursuing a qualification in nuclear? Take a look through this website or get in touch with Michelle Lambon-Wilks directly at MichelleLW@ncfn.ac.uk

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