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National College for Nuclear: Collaboration to Combat Future National Skills Shortage

Four education providers have been named as partners in the National College for Nuclear in an announcement on Friday 20th March, made by Business Minister Matt Hancock. The National College for Nuclear is a key part of the government’s strategy to address a future national skills shortage in the nuclear industry, and is a partnership between Lakes College, Sellafield Ltd and the University of Cumbria, which will create the Northern hub and Bridgwater College, EDF Energy and University of Bristol, which will be the Southern hub.

The National College for Nuclear will be a virtual college, specialising in training and development for the nuclear industry. However, estate investment is planned across the two further education colleges. These new resources will offer world-class training facilities for the advanced and higher technical skills levels, including virtual design facilities and augmented reality.  The Universities of Bristol and Cumbria will provide a complementary connection to the Higher Education sector, ensuring a pipeline through to the top level of science and engineering education.

The National College for Nuclear will also develop its own employer-led curriculum and accreditation, driving the standards of training for the nuclear sector and developing clear, specialised nuclear engineering pathways between school and university.

Andy Berry, Vice Principal at Bridgwater College said:

“Bridgwater College are delighted to be part of this incredibly exciting opportunity to develop a National College for Nuclear. We have a long history of working with the nuclear industry and in particular, with EDF Energy, with whom we have developed facilities and training opportunities that have had a significant impact on our communities. The experience we have of partnering with industry alongside delivering extremely high quality qualifications will enable us, working with both EDF Energy and Sellafield Ltd, to create a higher technical and professional curriculum that addresses skill and capability gaps and maintains and improves educational standards in the nuclear sector.”

Chris Nattress, Lakes College Principal said:

“I am delighted that Lakes College is a founding member of the National College for Nuclear, particularly as it will provide excellent national opportunities for our region. The National College has been specifically created to fill a shortfall in national nuclear related skills, and to design employer-led courses and training for the nuclear industry. This will ensure communities in West Cumbria and beyond can benefit directly from the training employers need.”

Sellafield Ltd Human Resources Director, Colin Reed, is the NCfN shadow board Chair. He said:

“Sellafield Ltd is delighted to be part of the National College for Nuclear. The NDA and Sellafield Ltd are making substantial investments to grow the economy and develop West Cumbria as a global centre of nuclear excellence.

The College will provide a source of qualification and curriculum development to feed the skills pipelines for the nuclear sector and its supply chain.”

Vincent de Rivaz CBE, Chief Executive, EDF Energy, said:

“EDF Energy is proud to be at the heart of the UK’s new National College for Nuclear. The National College will play a vital role in developing skills across the industry, underpinning the UK’s nuclear renaissance. The industry needs high quality vocational skills so that we can continue to operate the existing nuclear fleet safely for longer, as well as for taking forward plans for the UK’s first new nuclear power station in a generation. The National College for Nuclear will help ensure the UK has the right skills to participate fully in the global nuclear market.”

Professor Peter Strike, University of Cumbria Vice Chancellor said:

“The announcement of the arrangements for the National College for Nuclear represents an excellent initiative, bringing together providers in both FE and HE to deliver solutions for the skills need of the nuclear industry in a co-ordinated and effective way.  Inclusion of the two universities, Cumbria and Bristol, emphasises that this initiative has truly national, and potentially international, reach.

Operating between the two college centres at Lakes College and Bridgwater College provides convenient access for both the established nuclear sites at Hinkley and Sellafield as well as supporting the new build and decommissioning activities at these locations.

Through the development of programmes approved by the colleges, the universities and the nuclear companies, we are creating provision that will be used throughout the industry in the UK and potentially much more widely. The programme is also based on a model of collaboration between institutions and employers that is genuinely innovative and will allow the sharing and effective use of infrastructure such as virtual management systems.”

Business Minister Matthew Hancock said:

“It’s expected the nuclear industry will need 30,000 new employees over the next decade – and the Nuclear College will equip young people with the skills they need. Creating jobs and opportunities for local people is front and centre of our long term economic plan to secure a brighter future for Britain.”