In August 2023 a new Nuclear Skills Taskforce was set up with the aim to ensure that the UK’s
nuclear sector for future success, supporting industry to build a long-term and sustainable pipeline of skills to meet our nuclear ambition.
The UK’s nuclear capability plays a significant role in the security, prosperity and resilience of the UK. Putting our nuclear workforce at the heart of this upskilling work will help deliver on the Prime Minister’s priority to grow the economy and support UK jobs.
The Taskforce, led by Sir Simon Bollam, was made up of representatives from the Ministry of Defence, Department for Energy Security and Net Zero, Department for Education, academia and professional bodies as well as industry partners.
As part of the Taskforce activities NCfN was commissioned to deliver a project on Provider capacity and capability. As the sector has faced an overall decline in the last few decades, there is concern about the resilience of the provider capacity and capability to meet this anticipated increase in demand.
The ability for providers to accommodate an increase in the demand for courses and programmes is not currently understood. However, as the timeframe was very limited data collection was prioritised, but not limited to, the top twenty priority skills areas, as identified by the NSSB. These included, nuclear engineers and operators, Radiological Protection, Project Planning and Control, welding, safety case, IT etc.
The NCFN were provided with a number of data sources to use to undertake this desktop exercise.
In addition, interrogation of the IfaTE database and provider websites were utilised to verify and validate the data provided. This was supported by holding a number of telephone interviews with both providers, employers and educational subject matter experts in order to further clarify the data supplied. Whilst discussions were taking place with providers, the opportunity was also taken to understand the barrier to upscale facing the providers. The objective of this activity was to enable the development of an asset that presented an up-to-date picture that reflected nuclear training/ educational needs across the sector.
Key to determining the design and content of the database was to consider how the data would be used. It has been designed to be easy to use, manipulate and maintained. It can be filtered on a specific skill, educational level, regional delivery to provide the ability to enable clustering – identifying hot spots/gaps in provision. On completion of the task NCfN made several recommendations to ensure that the database could be further developed so that it would be an integral asset to the NSSG in supporting skills growth for the nuclear sector.