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HIGHLANDS CAN HAVE LEADING EDGE
IN DECOMMISSIONING SKILLS SECTOR 26
Mr Peter Welsh, who is also a board member of the Sector Skills Development Agency, was addressing the Highland forum of Sector Skills Alliance Scotland. He outlined how discussions are taking place to enable the demand for decommissioning skills in the UK to become part of a strategy for a proposed sector skills council currently representing the polymers, petrochemicals and offshore industries under the banner of Cogent. The industries all operate in highly-regulated environments, and share common features in safety engineering, safety case writing, processes, maintenance and contracting approaches.
The emergence of employer-led strategies co-ordinated by a skills council was an opportunity for the sector to work in partnership to deliver Modern Apprenticeships, vocational qualifications, improvements in soft skills among school-leavers and attract a greater proportion of graduates to careers in engineering and technology services.
"Dounreay is at the forefront of an emerging nuclear decommissioning sector currently valued at some £48 billion in the UK alone, and as it expands so will the demand for these skills", said Mr Welsh.
"From UKAEA's perspective, we want to be the leader in this field. As a highly skilled operator utilising highly skilled contractors, we are in pole position to secure the opportunity for the UK sector to exploit a global decommissioning market worth hundreds of billions of pounds. "But we will only be able to exploit the opportunities to the full if we develop the skills we need. The development of an integrated network of sector skills councils can provide a powerful voice in areas of policy and strategy, and it is an opportunity for those industries in this sector to meet head on the skills challenges that it faces in the years ahead if it is achieve its full growth potential. The prime position of Dounreay in this sector, and the skills base we are developing, is also a major opportunity for the sustainable development of the Highlands."
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.