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Apprentice Katie Shines Through

National Nuclear Laboratory Technical Assistant Katie Maxwell has scooped the prestigious National Skills Academy for Nuclear Apprentice of the Year Award.

Katie, who is based at the NNL Central Laboratory, Sellafield, was presented with the award at a special ceremony at the Palace Hotel, Manchester, where she beat other winners of regional awards for the national title.

Her work supports NNL services for customers in making improvements to site vitrification operations, the process of converting waste liquids into a glass form.  She also works on laboratory management by making operator rounds to make sure facilities are kept operationally safe. Katie is also responsible for maintaining a local chemical database.

She already has her NVQ Levels 2 and 3 qualifications, which were completed 12 months ahead of schedule and is currently in the second year of a HNC course in chemistry.  Once she completes her HNC, Katie intends to take a chemistry degree.  She has also attended several NNL sponsored courses as part of her training programme and will use the experience gained so far in her new role as an NVQ assessor leading and supporting training for young people.

Katie said: "I couldn't believe it. I knew there was strong competition so this is particularly pleasing. I thoroughly enjoy the work I'm conducting and it's a great time to be involved in research work at the National Nuclear Laboratory."

Katie joined the NNL in 2006 as a GEN II apprentice before becoming a permanent employee in January this year.  GEN II is the joint venture training company established in 2000 by employers in West Cumbria, with support from the NNL over several years.

As employers in the nuclear sector gear up to tackle current and future skills issues, apprenticeships are seen as a key part of the national strategy.  Apprentice schemes offer young people the opportunity to get paid as they learn and enjoy the best of both worlds.

The NNL has traditionally offered apprenticeships to young people leading to permanent employment.

To recognise the value of apprenticeships, the National Skills Academy for Nuclear (NSAN) has co-ordinated a Regional Apprentice of the Year award leading to the national award.

The activities of NSAN are complementary to the science skills initiatives being managed by the NNL and the two organisations work closely together on a range of topics.