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Supporting our nuclear apprentices and graduates to become the industry leaders of tomorrow

Co-Chair of the Nuclear Energy APPG and event sponsor, Charlotte Nichols MP, pictured with NDA group attendees

Nuclear Decommissioning Authority | Sellafield Ltd

5 min read Partner content

As we mark National Apprenticeships Week 2023, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority group (NDA), including Sellafield Ltd, is proud to recognise the more than 1,000 people following early career programmes at its nuclear clean-up sites.

Fourteen young graduates and apprentices from across the NDA were pleased to attend the Nuclear Industry Association’s Skills and Apprenticeships Fair on 31st January as part of the Nuclear Week in Parliament.

The event was a chance to engage with cross party parliamentarians about the wide range of talent and opportunities on offer within the industry, all at a time when nuclear is set to play an increasingly critical role within the UK’s energy supply.

Commenting on the current excitement within the sector during her keynote address, CEO of Nuclear Waste Services, Corhyn Parr, said: “I have been in the sector for 25 years and I have never heard a buzz that we have right now around nuclear…This is an industry and a sector that, because of the investment we are now starting to make, we have exciting and fantastic jobs and plans for life.”

Particularly impressive are the apprentices and graduates who are lining up within the industry to become the leaders of tomorrow. The NDA group alone invests over £30 million each year in apprentice and graduate development and there are over 1,000 people currently following early-career programmes in the nuclear decommissioning sector.

Speaking about the initiatives that are being undertaken to promote early careers within nuclear decommissioning, Parr, who herself started out as an apprentice said: “NDA take our young and early careers folk seriously… Over the last few years we have invested £50 million at Whitehaven’s campus in Cumbria, the Skills Hub at Ayrshire College in Scotland, the engineering centres at Coleg Menai on Anglesey and also the North Highland College in Caithness, and this is really important not just to NDA businesses but to me personally – that investment in our young people [and] giving them valuable training to support them in fantastic career paths that they can have in our sector.”

Reflecting on her own experience as an NDA Control Systems Apprentice at the Fair was Rachel Gleaves, who said: “To me there are always opportunities I can get involved with every week outside my job role. It’s not just about training to be an engineer, it’s about what I am doing outside of that as well to develop as a professional.”

The event was sponsored by Co-Chair of the APPG on Nuclear Energy, Charlotte Nichols MP, who’s Warrington North constituency is home to one of the largest number of people employed within the industry. Commenting on its success in nurturing and developing young talent, Nichols said:

“I think the unique thing about the nuclear sector is the fact that it is one of the only sectors that you can build an actual career in… Even if we didn’t build a single new power station there is still a hundred years of work in the pipeline in nuclear decommissioning. It’s not a sector that’s dying or going anywhere or in crisis, its one that is thriving. There is so much happening that is really exciting, and you can be part of not only working with energy sovereignty and something that can be exportable…but also global decarbonisation.”

 Charlotte Nichols MP with NDA graduates and apprentices

Meanwhile, when questioned on the success behind the industry’s efforts to develop young talent, Chair of the APPG on Nuclear Energy, Ian Liddell-Grainger MP, replied: “I think because of the national nuclear colleges in both the north and the south, it has given us an enormous depth of ability to be able to train much quicker, much faster and to a level which industry now demands and it’s very exciting."

Commenting on the impact of joint learning between the country’s National College for Nuclear hubs in Bridgwater and Cumbria, Liddell-Grainger added: “The National College for Nuclear run by Bridgwater & Taunton College in my constituency, they already work with Cumbria. The nuclear industry is a very small industry… you could be an apprentice, you can be a manager, you can be an engineer – they all know each other. Therefore, training should be in that way. You could leave from Bridgwater or from Cumbria and you can get a job anywhere in this room with anybody, and I think that is absolutely crucial."

Meanwhile, Trudy Harrison MP, who’s Copeland constituency covers the Sellafield site said: “I am a huge supporter of both apprentices and the nuclear industry, so for me, an apprenticeship in the nuclear industry is a win-win situation. It gives a young person an opportunity to develop skills and knowledge for a rewarding career, while helping our nuclear industry develop their talented workforce for the future. Particularly welcome this week was Sellafield Ltd’s announcement that 300 apprentices will be recruited this year. Sellafield Ltd continues to break records on its amazing recruitment, training and development of its young people that is a real boost for the future of the nuclear industry in the area. I’ve met a number of Sellafield Ltd apprentices over the past few years and I’m always impressed by their enthusiasm, and opportunities that the wide range of disciplines offer."

For more information about the early career opportunities available at Sellafield and the wider NDA Group, please click here.

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