Union hails new nuclear skills facility

Union hails new nuclear skills facility

The government’s plan to launch a £25m centrally funded nuclear engineering skills facility to co-ordinate work on new materials and components in Rotherham, near Sheffield, is a great boost for British industry, Prospect union said.

Lord Mandelson said the centre will develop manufacturing techniques and components that will not only benefit the UK in its transition to a low carbon economy but also industrially and in managing growth.

“This decision is important for UK manufacturing jobs and rebuilding the UK manufacturing base,” said Mike Graham, Prospect national secretary at the union for 15,000 nuclear professionals.

“We need proactive preparation for the programme of new nuclear build. The government’s own low-carbon industrial strategy recognised that key to developing the UK nuclear supply chain will be the supply of a skilled workforce to manufacture, build, operate and maintain the new nuclear fleet.

“It also recognised that addressing these barriers would need public investment.

“Research by the Nuclear Industry Association has pointed out that British industry could supply about 70 per cent of the total requirement of such a programme – which, with more investment in facilities and training of personnel, could rise to over 80 per cent. So this centre will be a key building block in ensuring that the UK supply chain benefits.

The need to address skills issues was further highlighted by this week’s Engineering and Technology Board report, which said the UK needs an extra 587,000 engineers between 2009 and 2017, all with advanced skills, so that the country can compete with other developed economies.

“This new facility will help UK manufacturers to build skilled capacity, increase jobs and more effectively compete for contracts. It is very good news,” said Mike Graham.