Sellafield leading nuclear apprenticeships in UK

Sellafield 200British Skills Minister praises Sellafield Ltd, for leading the way with a new ‘one of a kind’ nuclear apprenticeship.

Following the government’s announcement that apprenticeships are to be reformed to meet the needs of British employers, Sellafield Ltd has been working alongside the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), the National Skills Academy Nuclear (NSAN) and Cogent Sector Skills Council, to develop new and improved apprenticeships, including a new Nuclear Welding Inspection Technician apprenticeship, as part of the company’s world-class training programme.

Known as the ‘Trailblazer project’, Sellafield Ltd has joined employers from across the country in reaching Phase 3 of the BIS initiative, which will give British businesses an opportunity to develop new apprenticeship standards, dictating the content and method of assessments involved.

Sellafield Ltd, a Nuclear Management Partners’ company, has successfully gained approval for three of its apprenticeship programmes: nuclear worker (Plant Process and Decommissioning Operatives), Health Physics Monitor and Nuclear Welding Inspection Technician, a new apprenticeship for 2015.

Skills Minister Nick Boles said: “I congratulate Sellafield Ltd for the key role it is playing in developing new top-quality apprenticeships.

“Through the trailblazers initiative companies like Sellafield Ltd, in collaboration with their industry partners, will give people the skills they need to thrive and our businesses need to compete.”

The Sellafield site, opened in the 1940s, was home to the UK’s nuclear weapons program, the world’s first commercial nuclear power reactor and various nuclear fuel storage facilities. The oldest of these facilities were built by nuclear pioneers in an age before computers, without any thought for how they would be cleaned up.

The challenge of cleaning up those early facilities is falling to the modern generation of nuclear workers, and Sellafield Ltd employees over 10,000 people.

Head of Education & Skills at Sellafield Ltd, Les Agnew said: “One of Sellafield Ltd’s most important investments is the skills and development of the next generation of professionals and this is why we take such pride in having one of the most reputable apprentice schemes in the UK.

“Apprentices were first taken on by the company in 1953 and this year we recruited over 150 young people to a wide range of careers.

“When the Government reform of apprenticeships were announced it was appropriate for Sellafield Ltd to take the lead for the nuclear sector, in the reform trailblazer process. Together with 15 other employers and a range of skills bodies, Sellafield Ltd has agreed to work with Government to set new apprentice standards for, Nuclear Worker, Health Physics Monitor and a new apprenticeship; Nuclear Welding Inspection Technician.

“Employer leadership will ensure that these apprenticeships meet our needs and provide the required standards for a successful career in the nuclear sector.”

The Nuclear Trailblazer Group will be chaired by Ken McEwan, Head of Training at Sellafield Ltd, and will consist of representatives from across the nuclear industry such as Site License Companies, Supply Chain Companies and Professional Industry bodies, who will all participate in the apprenticeships development and subsequent implementation.

Ken said: “It is a pleasure to be chairing the group who will set the standard for the future for nuclear apprenticeships in our industry.”

Dave Tomlinson from Sellafield Ltd will lead the Nuclear Welding Inspection Technician apprenticeship, the first of its type in the UK. He said: “This apprenticeship is a ‘one of a kind’ scheme. The demand for inspection personnel in general is increasing within the nuclear sector and this apprenticeship will help us grow our own inspection personnel who can perform quality control welding inspection to ensure safety related fabrications meet the requirements specified within codes, standards and engineering documents for the particular nuclear application.

“I will be taking a lead role on behalf of Sellafield Ltd, driving the programme from initial concept through to implementation. It’s a fantastic opportunity for me to be part of something new that will be utilised to develop an extensive range of welding inspection skills, which will ultimately be deployed across the nuclear industry and in particular meet our capability demands within the company for site and supply chain engagement.

“The next 12 months are going to be both challenging and rewarding however I will be proud to see the first intake of apprentices embarking on this scheme in September 2015.”

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