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DOUNREAY LAUNCHES FIRST APPRENTICESHIPS IN
Young people are to be offered apprenticeships in nuclear decommissioning for the first time at Dounreay as part of the £4 billion programme to dismantle the experimental reactor establishment.
The UK Atomic Energy Authority today announced it is setting up a pilot scheme with the aim of creating the first Modern Apprenticeship in Nuclear Operations and Decommissioning in the UK. An initial four young people will be recruited over the next few months to begin their apprenticeship in August.
The apprenticeships are in addition to the existing craft, scientific, technical and secretarial training schemes for young people at Dounreay. Dounreay site director Peter Welsh said: "Dounreay is at the forefront of a nuclear decommissioning business estimated to be worth some £48 billion in the UK alone over the next few decades, so I'm delighted we are also leading the way in the creation of opportunities for young people in this area to learn the skills that will be in demand as more sites in the UK and overseas are decommissioned.
"The expansion of our
apprenticeship programme underlines the size of the undertaking we have
embarked on in dismantling a site as complex as Dounreay, with its
legacies of atomic experiments dating back almost 50 years. The
traditional craft, scientific, technical and secretarial
The announcement was welcomed by Mr Brian Wilson, Minister for Energy and Construction, who said: "The training of young people at Dounreay is essential for the long term planning of decommissioning projects. I am delighted to see UKAEA maintaining an exemplary tradition of training and development in the Highlands and Islands.
"The new era of decommissioning and environmental restoration presents numerous opportunities for local industries and economies to benefit. One of the best ways to maximise this potential is to invest in youth development, and the apprenticeships announced today build upon the existing opportunities for young people at Dounreay within the craft, scientific, technical and secretarial fields."
The apprentices will gain vocational qualifications at both levels 2 and 3, which will require a programme of safety induction backed up by basic training in construction skills, electrical and mechanical safety, UKAEA training courses and personal coaching. Assessment will be carried out at work placements including operational plants dealing with decommissioning waste, laboratories and decommissioning plants, as well as off-site placements with local construction companies and other related businesses.
The apprentices will attend North Highland College in Thurso on a day-release basis to complete both the National Certificate in Processing and the City and Guilds Radiation Safety Practice Part One certificate, with the possibility of progression to an HNC. They will join other UKAEA apprentices on Outward Bound training at Locheil and will take a full part in community activities, such as construction of a Viking Longship built for the 2002 Thurso gala.
Caithness and Sutherland Enterprise is providing financial assistance towards the Modern Apprenticeships. Carroll Buxton, Chief Executive of CASE, said: "Modern Apprenticeships represent a real success story in Caithness and Sutherland - they provide an excellent opportunity to acquire qualifications while earning and gaining essential work experience. CASE is delighted that UKAEA has identified a specific apprenticeship which can equip the apprentices to work safely and effectively in all sectors undertaking major decommissioning projects."
UKAEA has trained approximately a thousand apprentices in a range of skills at Dounreay since the first intake of young people in 1955. Currently, up to 15 young people are recruited each year on craft, scientific, technical and secretarial training programmes.
The new Modern Apprenticeship Framework for Nuclear Operations and Decommissioning will be developed in consultation with the Modern Apprenticeship Implementation Group, Sector Skills Development Agency, and the formative Sector Skills Council for Nuclear Technology.
In December, the North Highland College of the University of the Highlands and Islands Millennium Institute announced plans to set up a Decommissioning and Environmental Remediation Institute to deliver undergraduate, postgraduate and research associated with decommissioning.
The Dounreay Site Restoration Plan involves some 1500 activities required to decommission the site over the next 50-60 years at a cost in the region of £4 billion. Published in October 2000, it can be viewed at www.ukaea.org.uk
UKAEA is currently spending £140-150 million a year on decommissioning Dounreay. This is worth approximately £75 million a year to the economy of the Highlands alone.