Women working in the nuclear sector may be in the minority, but they were out in force winning all five Advanced Apprentice awards in Design, Maintenance, Manufacturing, Scientific and Support at the 2016 UK Nuclear Skills Awards – held on the 10th March in Manchester. This left no doubt that the overall UK Nuclear Apprentice of the Year, would be female.
Grace Draper from Rolls Royce, the overall winner, was also awarded Design Apprentice of the Year. Grace completed an Advanced Apprenticeship in Technical Engineering and currently works as a Controls Engineer.
During her apprenticeship, Grace was shortlisted for the IET’s Young Woman of the Year and was involved in STEM promotion which resulted in a week long Rolls-Royce STEM festival at a forestry centre for local schools. Grace’s employer commented that Grace is a real asset to the team – ‘Grace doesn’t only push herself within the working environment, but also works hard to promote apprenticeships.’
This success is made all the more special as reports show that only 10% of the UK’s engineering workforce is female, and only 9% of women in the UK public claim to understand the nuclear industry.
The sector has been making significant efforts to address the gender imbalance in the industry through educational programmes such as Energy Foresight and with the establishment of Women in Nuclear (WiN). The success of the female candidates at the Awards is seen as a real positive, clearly demonstrating that the number of women choosing a career in the sector is increasing.
Miranda Kirschel, President of Women in Nuclear UK, said:
“The Skills Awards are a key part of the nuclear industry calendar and I’m delighted that the strong female talent entering the nuclear industry through apprenticeships has been recognised. An integral part of Women in Nuclear UK is ensuring that girls understand the opportunities available and that the nuclear industry is a sector in which they can flourish, and these young female award winners will help us achieve that objective.”
Tom Samson, CEO of NuGen – the UK Nuclear Skills Award’s main sponsor – commented:
“These awards are a fantastic showcase for our industry and I am truly delighted that there was an equal split between male and female finalists and, for the first time, all the winners of the Advanced Apprentice awards were women. I congratulate all the winners and finalists and I am excited about the calibre of the next generation of people working in the nuclear industry”.
Jean Llewellyn OBE, Chief Executive of the National Skills Academy for Nuclear said:
“The UK Nuclear Skills Awards highlight the exceptional quality of people of all levels, who are committed to careers in the nuclear sector.
This year we have witnessed a shift in male and female finalists and winners and this is a huge testament to how diversity is improving across the nuclear industry and this will really help address the sector’s skills challenges of the future.”
Tom Greatrex, Chief Executive of the Nuclear Industry Association, said:
“Congratulations to the winners and everyone involved in the 2016 Nuclear Skills Awards. These awards showcase the talent in the industry and the future leaders of the sector. With all five of the Advanced Apprentice awards going to young women, it demonstrates how serious the nuclear industry is about addressing gender balance and provides the sector with great role models to show girls it is an environment they can work in.”
Other winners on the night include Samantha McRae from AWE who won the Maintenance Apprentice of the Year, Emily Lambert from BAE Systems who won the Manufacturing Apprentice of the Year, Kerry Marie Burns from NNL who won the Scientific Apprentice of the Year and Lucy Green from Doosan Babcock who won the Support Apprentice of the Year.
Flying the flag for males the title of Higher Apprentice of the Year was awarded to Stanley Readyhoof from Rolls Royce, The UK Nuclear Graduate of the Year was awarded to Robert Wild from Sellafield Ltd, the Foundation Degree/HND Student of the Year was awarded to Jack Bowman from Sellafield Ltd and the STEM Ambassador Award went to Richard Taffs from NIS Ltd.