Skills crisis threatens UK’s nuclear ambitions

Britain’s nuclear program will suffer unless the skills set is massively improved, says Jean Llewellyn, chief executive of the National Skills Academy for Nuclear. She told the Nuclear Energy Forum […]

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By Tom Gibson

Britain’s nuclear program will suffer unless the skills set is massively improved, says Jean Llewellyn, chief executive of the National Skills Academy for Nuclear.

She told the Nuclear Energy Forum in London yesterday that the industry needed more young blood. “The majority of the workforce is in the 50-plus bracket. This creates a huge challenge. That is where the knowledge sits. The gap is in the 20-30 bracket is where there is a real dip. How then can we transfer those skills? Who are the future leaders of our industry?”

Mrs Llewellyn talked of the limited potential in Britain due to a severe lack of jobs. Last year there were 1300 applications for just 28 places of the Nuclear Graduate Program. With 14,000 jobs needed for the operation of British nuclear facilities by 2025, she said:What funding there is has to go to the right areas. Apprenticeships are vital.”

She said it seemed clear that more investment will bring British nuclear to the forefront of the global market:

We need to make sure we follow through on what we’ve started. The world is watching us. They want to learn from us, they want to learn from our standards.”

Ms Llewellyn issued a strong challenge to the industry:The Nuclear Industry Association has 240 members. I’m very proud to say that we now have over 80. Those companies that see themselves as part of the Nuclear Industry Association see the industry as important, yet don’t commit to the skills agenda, I suggest it a challenge you ought to consider.”