Bridgwater & Taunton College’s National College for Nuclear, Southern Hub (NCfN) is one of three finalists in the Skills Innovation of the Year category at this week’s Semta Skills Awards, facing stiff competition from Jaguar Land Rover and Toyota Manufacturing.
The Skills Innovation of the Year category examines the ways in which organisations have harnessed the latest technology to improve their delivery of skills training, and the positive impact this has had on the workforce. The College’s entry detailed the innovative work it is carrying out at the NCfN to address the urgent need for large numbers of skilled technicians to deliver the UK’s civil nuclear programme.
Recognising that unskilled and unqualified staff cannot practice in a live nuclear power plant, the College has used Virtual Reality simulation to recreate a ‘live’ installation within the NCfN, meaning that those new to the sector or considering a career in nuclear can see, as if at first hand, what the inside of a nuclear power plant looks like. Working in teams on ‘live’ work-based projects, they assimilate and practise new skills in complete safety, whilst also coming to understand the protocols and behaviours so important to nuclear safety.
Experienced workers can also benefit. Within this ‘live’ installation they can rehearse and perfect tricky manoeuvres in a totally radiation-free environment, meaning that once they get back to site they get it right first time, every time - keeping them effective, and safe.
This technology was previously only available to those already working in nuclear, and the potential benefits are vast. It can be replicated many times, and the College is already supporting other colleges with proposed nuclear developments on their doorstep. Bridgwater & Taunton College successfully applied for grant funding from the Edge Foundation and Ufi Charitable Trust in support of this project and has also received financial support from Framatome.
The winners will be announced at the Semta Skills Awards ceremony on Thursday 21 March at the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge Hotel, London.