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UK’s National Laboratory For Nuclear Fission Announces Welsh Skills Partnership

The National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) has launched a skills partnership with Wales’s largest further-education (FE) institution, helping nurture the next generation of highly skilled individuals and bridge the nuclear industry’s skills gap.

In recognition of the impact and value of Wales as a centre of nuclear science and innovation, NNL opened its first formal base in Wales on Ynys Môn this summer.

Now, as part of its clear commitment to future nuclear development in Wales, NNL is investing in a skills partnership with Grŵp Llandrillo Menai – a major college group with campuses across four counties of North Wales, to help prepare learners for the opportunities that nuclear technology and other forms of clean energy will bring to the area. This includes:

  • Bringing together primary and secondary schools across Ynys Môn to showcase STEM careers and potential careers in the nuclear industry at Grŵp Llandrillo Menai’s CODI STEM event in 2022.
  • Working with Grŵp Llandrillo Menai to provide experience and information to students and lecturers on careers in STEM subjects and nuclear technology.
  • Support to Grŵp Llandrillo Menai on nuclear and other clean energy programmes.

As the UK’s national laboratory for nuclear fission, NNL is committed to delivering for the whole of Wales and the UK.  The Government has acknowledged that without nuclear, the UK will not meet its net zero commitments on time in its Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution, Energy White Paper and Net Zero Strategy. Earlier this month the UK made a landmark commitment to decarbonise its entire electricity system by 2035.

Yet the nuclear sector faces the challenge of an ageing workforce, leaving the industry with a skills gap. The average age of an engineer in the UK is 54 which means across all sectors, recruitment and training of highly skilled individuals is a key priority.

NNL is also expanding its relationship with Bangor University through the sponsorship of two PhD students and the announcement of their senior technical lead, Dave Goddard, as a visiting professor of nuclear fuels. In addition, it is increasing funding for nuclear research and development at Bangor University under the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s Advanced Fuel Cycle Project.

Already, NNL supports over 1,100 jobs across the nuclear sector, as well as investing in the next generation through apprenticeship, graduate and post-Doctoral programmes.

Paul Howarth, Chief Executive Officer of NNL, said: “We believe Wales can and should be a flagship region for clean energy technologies – in terms of nuclear but also wind, solar and other low carbon sources – and, in the process, nurture the local supply chain and create more high-skilled, high-paid green jobs.”

Virginia Crosbie, MP for Ynys Môn, said: “With companies such as Bechtel, Rolls-Royce and Westinghouse looking to new nuclear development at Wylfa Newydd and Trawsfynydd to help us meet net zero and the potential for new R&D facilities such as the National Thermal Hydraulics Test Facility; North Wales can lead the way in clean energy production. I am delighted to see NNL placing skills high on the agenda as new nuclear technology can bring thousands of highly skilled jobs to the island.”

Rhun ap Iorwerth, Senedd Member for Ynys Môn, said: “Economic opportunities of any nature can only be realised if we have the right skills within the local workforce, and ensuring that our children and young people are equipped to pursue highly skilled careers and employment has always been a priority of mine. It’s important in particular that every opportunity is afforded to the workforce of tomorrow in terms of STEM subjects, with so many opportunities to use those skills already here on Anglesey or in the pipeline.”

Dafydd Evans, Chief Executive Officer of Grŵp Llandrillo Menai, said: “We are very pleased to set up this partnership with NNL which will give both our learners and staff an insight into leading edge technology and science. The skills we are providing to our young people will open opportunities for them in all low carbon industries both locally and nationally as we move to address the climate change crisis”

Bill Lee, Sêr Cymru Professor at the Nuclear Futures Institute at Bangor University, said: “This is just the beginning of a close relationship between NNL and Bangor University to support development of all low carbon forms of energy for North Wales. We are excited by the research and training opportunities it will enable us to work on with NNL and Grŵp Llandrillo Menai colleagues.”

In line with its commitment to Wales, NNL is also pleased to announce its website is now fully bilingual.