UK grants £15 million to boost nuclear training

10 May 2016

The UK government has announced details of almost £80 million ($115 million) in funding to support the creation of five new National Colleges that it says will support the delivery of major infrastructure projects, including new nuclear. The centres of high-tech training will "ensure the UK has skilled people in industries crucial to economic growth - high speed rail, nuclear, onshore oil and gas, digital skills and the creative industries", the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) said yesterday.  

The five include a National College for Nuclear, which will have "hubs" in Somerset and Cumbria. It will receive £15 million from BIS for the construction of new buildings and equipment. The South West Local Enterprise Partnership and Bridgwater College are providing £3 million and £4.5 million, respectively.

The National College for Digital Skills and the National College for the Creative and Cultural Industries will open in September 2016. The National College for High Speed Rail, the National College for Onshore Oil and Gas and the National College for Nuclear will open in September 2017.

Announcing the funding, skills minister Nick Boles said: "This is the investment in high-tech skills that businesses are crying out for. We have made it a priority to work with employers to deliver high-quality, technical education and clear routes to employment that deliver economic growth and create opportunities for our young people, and enable our existing workforce to upskill and retrain for the jobs of the future."

The colleges, which were confirmed in the government's Spending Review set out by Chancellor George Osborne in November last year, have had to pass a "detailed examination of their business plans and capital proposals" to receive government funding which will help with the construction of new buildings and the purchase of equipment. Local authorities, Local Enterprise Partnerships, industry bodies and businesses are also contributing towards the colleges.

Welcoming the funding commitment, Tom Greatrex, chief executive of the UK's Nuclear Industry Association, said: "It is no secret, the average age of an engineer in the UK is 54, and many industries including our own face a widening skills gap. Initiatives such as this highlight the Government's long-term commitment to the UK's nuclear decommissioning and new build programs of work."

Fiona Rayment, chair of the Nuclear Skills Strategy Group, said: "This announcement is positive news for the nuclear sector, and is part of a much welcome commitment to training the next generation of nuclear workers with the vocational skills required for existing power generation, new build, decommissioning, defence, research and development and of course the all-important nuclear supply chain."

The nuclear industry generates one-fifth of all electricity used in the UK, directly employs around 64,000 professionals and has the support of 41% of the public, according to BIS. The electricity generated by existing power stations avoids the emissions of 40 million tonnes of CO2 a year - the equivalent of taking around half of Britain's cars off the roads, it added.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News