Opinion Former Article

Cogent: Launch of the National Skills Academy for Nuclear

The National Skills Academy for Nuclear will be officially launched by the Skills Minister David Lammy and the Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks, in an event at the Science Museum, London on the 31st January.

The event is expected to be attended by over 175 Nuclear employers, training providers and key stakeholders who will come together to celebrate the success of this employer-led initiative.

The Skills Academy, a wholly owned subsidiary of Cogent, the Sector Skills Council for the chemicals, pharmaceuticals, nuclear, oil and gas, petroleum and polymer industries, will assist nuclear employers in tackling the current and future skills barriers and challenges facing the nuclear industry. Cogent SSC and Skills Academy research has identified that over the next ten years the nuclear sector will need to recruit between 5,900-9,000 graduates and 2,700 to 4,500 skilled trades to meet the on-going needs of decommissioning, power generation, the fuel cycle and defence. In addition there will now be further recruitment and training needs to deliver the recently announced new build programme efficiently and safely.

From its head office in Cumbria, the Skills Academy operates via a network of Regional Training Clusters, developing and accrediting local high quality provision, and creating "centres of excellence" for the delivery of training to support the nuclear sector, enhanced where appropriate to respond to specific skills gaps as identified by employers.

The National Skills Academy for Nuclear will play a transformational role for the sector. The changing skills mix required by the nuclear sector, demands increased flexibility and mobility. As the transition from operating, to decommissioning, through to new build takes place, a flow of matching skills will be needed. At the request of employers the National Skills Academy for Nuclear has been leading on a Nuclear Skills Passport scheme which will record peoples' competences in a high-integrity transferable record. The Nuclear Skills Passport is being developed in partnership with Cogent as a result of evidence, through consultation with employers, that there is a clear demand to record all skills development, training and Continuing Professional Development undertaken by all individuals working across the sector. It will give employees a clear record of achievement and the ability to develop their careers throughout the sector. A pilot is due to start in March 2008.

Additionally the Skills Academy is leading on the development of a range of employer demanded activities including Apprenticeships, Foundation Degrees and other learning resources to further develop skills across the sector.

David Lammy MP, Skills Minister

"The National Skills Academy network will make a substantial contribution to the success of the Nuclear Industry. By making a long term investment in high quality training, tailored to the specific needs of their sector, the employers involved in this partnership will reap dividends by remaining competitive with a world class workforce."

Malcolm Wicks MP, Energy Minister

""With the go-ahead for new nuclear power and a clear strategy for decommissioning our nuclear legacy, the need for highly skilled workers is clear. The new academy will play a vital role in providing the skills and expertise needed to drive this buoyant industry forward. Helping to provide secure energy supplies and bringing on the low-carbon technologies we need for the future."

David Bonser, Executive Director BNFL and Chair of the National Skills Academy for Nuclear Board said:

"I am delighted to be involved in this pioneering partnership between industry and Government that is addressing our skills needs. The National Skills Academy for Nuclear places nuclear employers at the forefront of skills development. The tremendous industry support which has already been gained at this early stage, gives me confidence that the Skills Academy, will be able to successfully play its full role in delivering world class skills for a world class sector."

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

"I have been working with employers for over four years to develop a clear and coherent strategy to address the skills and training challenges facing the nuclear sector. To ensure that the highest standards of safety and operation are maintained and that the industry can compete in a changing global market. I am really delighted that all this hard work and commitment has culminated in the successful establishment of the National Skills Academy for Nuclear."

Joanna Woolf, Chief Executive of Cogent said:

"The dedication of the National Skills Academy for Nuclear's Project Team led with tremendous energy by Chief Executive Jean Llewellyn and the robust business plan which they delivered has turned our vision into a reality.

The unstinting employer commitment to the Skills Academy- both financial and through time and expertise - demonstrates just how important the initiative is to this priority industry. In return The Skills Academy puts nuclear employers right at the heart of the skills system, ensuring it is demand-led nationally and regionally.

What is truly remarkable about our new National Skills Academy for Nuclear at this exciting time for the industry, is that it gathers employers, contractors, training providers and funders around the delivery of training and education, for the very first time.

"Cogent will design the qualifications and standards and the Skills Academy will oversee the delivery of the high-quality provision that will make a real difference to nuclear employers, who need the very best science and engineering skills to succeed in their mission to be world-class."

Employer & Partner Support

Employers and partners who have already provided financial support to the Skills Academy include BNFL, Serco/SBB Nuclear, Urenco, LLWR, NUKEM, Fluor Ltd, NWDA, British Energy, UKAEA, Westinghouse/Springfields, VT Nuclear Services Ltd, NDA, Nexia Solutions, Magnox North, Doosan Babcock, Magnox South, Energy Solutions, Washington Division of URS, GE-Hitachi Nuclear, Sellafield Ltd, AMEC, CH2M Hill, LSC.

The Skills Academy Board of Directors has representatives from the above employers, stakeholders and Unions.

Notes to editors

1. The National Skills Academy network will be the new gold standard for industry training, aiming to improve productivity and tackle skills shortages across the UK. Each National Skills Academy puts employers at the heart of skills training for their sector: they influence the curriculum to ensure it reflects employers' needs; get involved in the Academy's management; set standards and influence strategic direction.

National Skills Academies aim to:

· deliver high quality training for a specific sector

· provide first-class teaching in a modern learning environment

· be centres of innovation and creativity in skills development for their sector

· be flexible, sustaining the closest possible relationships with employers of all sizes

· build specialist networks with a range of other learning providers, so that new thinking, new methods and higher standards are shared, to the benefit of learners and employers.

The National Skills Academy network was initiated by the Government to address the need for a world class workforce with better skills than ever before. It is managed by the Learning and Skills Council working in partnership with the Department for Innovation Universities and Skills, the Sector Skills Development Agency and the Department Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform.

For more information see: www.nationalskillsacademy.co.uk

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