The Government’s flagship National College for Nuclear was launched at the World Nuclear Exhibition (WNE) in Paris last week.
With industry experts and specialists congregating from across the globe, the WNE was the ideal platform from which to launch the National College for Nuclear (NCfN), based at Lakes College Cumbria to the north, and Bridgwater College in the south.
Funded by £15m from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), with additional finance for the southern hub coming from the Heart of the South West LEP and Bridgwater College, the National College aims to train over 7,000 students by 2020 and is designed to support the Government’s ambition of supply 90% of the nuclear sector’s workforce from within the UK, placing Britain in prime position to benefit from the estimated £930 billion being invested in the nuclear industry worldwide over the next two decades.
Set to start welcoming students in late 2017, the College will meet the demand for higher vocational skills in the nuclear sector and will offer courses designed by employers for a range of highly specialised careers in nuclear new build, operation and decommissioning. Sellafield Ltd and EDF Energy will lead industry input into the nuclear college, working alongside Lakes and Bridgwater Colleges, plus higher education providers, the Universities of Cumbria and Bristol.
Matt Tudor, Director of NCfN, said, “The NCfN will revolutionise the way that training for the nuclear sector is delivered. State-of-the-art technology, virtual reality simulators and scaled and simulated industrial structures and environments will take learners on a voyage of discovery via facilitated, group-based projects and tasks that exactly replicate the work setting. Learners will be able to access a suite of contemporary, flexible and blended short or modular courses that combine to form full-and part-time degree programmes and degree apprenticeships.” Tudor continued, “Students will emerge as highly skilled, work ready professionals with behaviours that meet the expectations and culture of the nuclear industry.”
Steve Hindley, Chair of the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership, which has helped to finance the southern hub at Bridgwater College, said: “The UK and particularly the South West is leading a global nuclear renaissance, and our area will be home to one of the country’s next generation of power stations, Hinkley Point C. This is not just about Hinkley though - there are 15 nuclear opportunities worth £50 billion in this region, and it is absolutely vital that the local workforce is equipped with the skills needed for these high value jobs. The establishment of a National College for Nuclear in our region places the Heart of the South West at the very nucleus of the nuclear industry.”
Colin Reed, Sellafield Ltd Human Resources Director and Board Chair for the National College for Nuclear said, “The announcement means that work will now begin on developing the curriculum which will help to train the next generation of nuclear workers. It is expected that new qualifications will be available in 2017 that reflect the needs of the nuclear sector and address the skills challenge facing the industry and its supply chain.”
Janet Hogben, EDF Energy's chief people officer, said, “We welcome the Government’s approval of the business plan as it means this exciting project can now move to the next stage. The new college will offer a fantastic opportunity to plug the skills gap that exists in the nuclear industry and will further support the UK’s growing nuclear power infrastructure.”