Celebrating the Nuclear Stars of the future…

On the 11th February 2010, the nuclear stars of the future were announced at the second annual UK Nuclear Skills Awards Evening in Manchester, organised by the National Skills Academy for Nuclear and Cogent Sector Skills Council. The event was attended by over 300 Nuclear employers, training providers and key stakeholders who came together to celebrate the success and high achievement of the learners nominated for awards.

The awards started with the National Nuclear Foundation Degree Student of the Year.  The winner, Victoria Martin, who studied at Lakes College, currently works for Sellafield Ltd as a Safety Advisor.  Originally joining the organisation as an Administrative Officer, Victoria’s proactive approach to her own personal development has ensured her career development through Health Physics Monitor and Technical Support Officer to her present role.

Victoria was one of the first cohort to enrol onto the new Foundation Degree in Nuclear Decommissioning. Not having an engineering or scientific background did not hold Victoria back in her studies, with her achieving the highest mark in her class.  Victoria completed her course part-time, which enabled her to continue working full-time to support her young family.

The Scottish HND Student of the Year award was presented to Michael Macaulay who works for DSRL as a Mechanical Technician.  Michael completed his studies at North Highland College.  Following on from his year of Foundation Training, Michael decided at an early stage that he wanted to achieve more than his HNC and attended extra evening classes to achieve additional units towards his HND.  This hard work and dedication came to fruitition in Sept 2009, when he achieved his HND in Mechanical Engineering.  Michael is described by his employers as an excellent worker with a high level of self motivation.

A new award was added to this year’s event, Bursary Student of the Year.  This category relates to the students who have benefitted from a NDA funded Bursary via the Skills Academy.  This award went to Suzette Middleton, who completed a foundation Degree in ICT at Lakes College.  Suzette won the award due to her drive and commitment to learning and self improvement which helped her to overcome a range of difficulties which she encountered as a mature student. Suzette admits that she has gained confidence and self belief through her studies. 

The Apprentice Awards were divided into Regions, the regional Apprentice of the Year winners were;

Wales – Marc Jones – Magnox North
Marc currently works as a Production Technician at Wylfa.  During his apprenticeship, Marc was the lead instrument apprentice during the commissioning of the Flow Loop Simulator.  His employer describes him as an excellent team member, a joy to work with and a person who will go far in his chosen trade.

Scotland – Nathan Mackay – Rolls Royce
Nathan currently works as an Instrument Technician and has set a new record for Rolls Royce by completing his four year Apprenticeship in 3 years and 1 month thanks to the new flexible framework.  Highlighting his dedication to the nuclear industry Nathan is also an active STEM Ambassador.  His employer describes him as an example of the best in the industry.

Southwest – Lewis Rush – British Energy part of EDF Energy, provider Bridgwater College
Lewis is a highly valued and well respected member of the instrumentation team at Hinckley Point B performing a wide variety of tasks from planned maintenance to defect reduction.  Achieving instrument technician status 4 months early, Lewis has helped to raise the standards within his team. 

Southeast/East – Justin Woodley- AWE
Justin is currently in the final year as an electronics apprentice with AWE.
His employer describes Justin as an enthusiastic and conscientious member of staff, who puts the maximum effort into everything he undertakes.  A person whose attitude has proven a great motivation for other team members and has had a very positive effect on his peers.

Northwest/Northeast – Anna Mawson-Sellafield, provider GEN II
Anna currently works as an Electrical and Instrumentation Craftsperson at Sellafield.  Anna’s development within the Craft Team has also seen her take on the Safety Representative Role, along with taking on the responsibility of being a mentor to the remaining apprentices within her team.  Anna’s employers say that since joining the team, Anna has gained the respect of her peers both within the craft and support teams and has become a highly valued member of the team in a very short period of time.

All of the Regional Apprentice of the Year winners were put forward for the coveted title of UK Nuclear Apprentice of the Year.  The National Panel had a very hard task and the National Winner selected was Lewis Rush of British Energy part of EDF Energy.

Roland Fletcher, Apprenticeship Manager, National Skills Academy Nuclear;

“Lewis displayed a real excitement about his apprenticeship and it was excellent to see how Lewis was using the Skills and Knowledge acquired during his apprenticeship to develop real solutions that will help his employer to operate more efficiently and safely.  The Panel were extremely impressed by Lewis’ willingness to learn, keenness to help support and motivate younger apprentices, his passion for his chosen trade and enthusiasm for really wanting to embed and grow his skills on his current job to gain more experience and learn more about the Operation of Hinkley Point B Power Station.  The Panel was in no doubt that Lewis has a bright future ahead of him and is a great role model for those thinking about undertaking an apprenticeship and the benefits this can bring, through hard work, dedication and enthusiasm”

The evening not only highlighted the achievement of the Nuclear Stars of the future, it also highlighted the hard work which is being undertaken by existing people within the Nuclear sector to help to raise the skills levels within their own organisations, and for the sector itself.  The Cogent award for Outstanding Leadership in Skills was awarded to Ian Williams from British Energy – part of EDF Energy.

Under Ian’s stewardship, in just over 2 years, their residential apprenticeship programme has increased from a few apprentices to over 106, and it’s projected to grow by over 50 % this year.  Success is down to Ian’s enthusiasm and his hard work to link myriad aspects of the programme – from managing training provider’s right through to handling the PR.

Ian provides 24/7 support for the apprentices, their parents and the BE Stations.  He runs a wide ranging scheme which includes elements of NVQs, Foundation Degrees, and even the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award.  Indeed everything is takes to become a nuclear professional.

Jean Llewellyn, Chief Executive of the National Skills Academy for Nuclear said:

“All of the award categories were heavily contested and the judging panels had a very hard task.  Every one of the award winners and finalists this year have demonstrated that they bring that little bit extra to their work, and the organisations that employ them
The UK Nuclear Skills Awards highlights the exceptional quality of vocational learners, who are committed to careers in the nuclear sector.   Apprenticeships and Foundation Degrees/HNDs are key avenues for replenishing and building skills for the nuclear sector.  It is extremely important to highlight the real and tangible contributions which these students make to their organisations on a daily basis.”

Cogent CEO, Joanna Woolf congratulated all the finalists and winners:

“The breadth and depth of applications is testament to an industry that values and invests in talent and understands the importance of the people within it. Recognising individuals through awards such as this is a great way to celebrate that success. She aslo highlighted Ian’s contribution: “Ian Williams deserves the Cogent Outstanding Leadership in Skills Award, it reflects both his commitment to developing technically competent apprentices as well as nuclear professionals and rounded citizens. Ian’s energy and dedication to making the scheme a success is ensuring we get the skilled young people we need coming into this vital industry”.

Skills Minister Kevin Brennan, said:
“The achievements of the nuclear sector’s brightest people have been recognised through these awards, and will go far in guaranteeing we have the highly skilled workforce we need for the future.   “The UK’s transition to a low carbon future is essential and will help create the jobs that will drive forward sustainable growth as we come out of the recession.”