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TEENAGERS LEAD BRITAIN IN DECOMMISSIONING APPRENTICESHIP
Britain's    first   modern   apprentices   in   nuclear   operations   and decommissioning have started a three-year training programme at the leading edge of Britain's nuclear clean-up.   Five  young  people from Caithness have joined a pilot initiative set up by the UK Atomic Energy Authority to teach them the skills needed to dismantle the former experimental reactor establishment at Dounreay.

They  are  among  21  young  people recruited this summer to UKAEA training schemes - the highest intake of young people at the Caithness site for over a decade.   Energy  Minister  Stephen  Timms  said:  "Dounreay  was held in the highest regard  for  the quality of its apprenticeships and training schemes during its  operational days, so I am pleased it is maintaining that commitment to the  future  of  young people in the area during its decommissioning phase.  The  clean-up  of  Dounreay  and  other  nuclear sites in the UK is a major opportunity   to  develop  British  skills  and  business.  The  growth  in opportunities  at  Dounreay for young people to learn new skills underlines this."


(From left) Michael Smith, Susan Henderson, Jim Swan, Darren Mackay, Colin Davidson, Hayley Davidson

Peter  Welsh,  director  of UKAEA Dounreay and a board member of the Sector Skills   Development   Agency,  said:  "Modern  apprenticeships  are  about extending  quality  vocational  training  to  areas outwith the traditional craft  apprenticeships, so I'm pleased that Dounreay is breaking new ground in   developing   a   modern   apprenticeship  in  nuclear  operations  and decommissioning that will have application across the whole nuclear sector.  This  initiative  is  being supported by the local enterprise company CASE, and  the  sector  skills  councils that are part of the Skills for Business
network that is being established by Government across the UK as a whole."

"As  we  decommission and clean up more of the site, the demand for skilled staff  will  remain  high. And as more sites in the UK and abroad follow in our  footsteps along the decommissioning route, the opportunities to export these skills will increase."  Decommissioning  contractors  at  the  site  are  interested in joining the initiative.  One  of  this  year's  pilot  intake has been recruited by RWE NUKEM, while the other four have been recruited by UKAEA.

One of them, Hayley Davidson (19) from Keiss, said: "I was studying towards an  HND in Mechanical Engineering when I saw the advertisement. Being in at such  an  early  stage  of  a  decommissioning  industry that holds so much promise  of  career  progression,  not  just here but throughout the UK and abroad, was too good an opportunity to miss."

Michael  Smith (19) from Thurso, said: "I've read a lot in the papers about how  the  county,  and  the world for that matter, needs a lot of qualified people  at  all  levels  to  safely  decommission  the  legacies of nuclear research  and  development.  I  was  working  in  the  butchers  at a local supermarket  before this and I'm optimistic this will be a good career move for me."

Colin  Davidson  (19)  from  Wick,  said:  "I  realised there was a growing requirement  for  people with decommissioning skills and I feel that I will get  the right training with RWE NUKEM.  This is a great opportunity for me to  learn  from  people  with real experience, get a qualification and have long  term career prospects here at Dounreay and, well, just about anywhere in the world."

Steve  Burness,  Head  of Site for RWE NUKEM at Dounreay, said: "As a major local  employer,  RWE  NUKEM  has a long association with UKAEA in training engineering apprentices as well as being successful in implementing the NVQ
Decommissioning  Programme at Dounreay. We are very pleased to embrace this further  initiative  to  train  young  people in decommissioning. This will serve  them and our industry well in the future. By working in partnership, UKAEA  and  RWE  NUKEM  will  produce  skilled  young people qualified to a recognised  standard.  This  will  give  them  the  opportunity  to  follow rewarding  and  challenging  careers in nuclear engineering, operations and decommissioning."

Caithness  and  Sutherland  Enterprise  is  providing  financial assistance towards  the  Modern  Apprenticeships. Chief executive Carroll Buxton said: "Providing high quality training opportunities for young people in our area is  a  key  priority  for  CASE.   The decommissioning of the Dounreay site offers  a  range  of  opportunities  for  young people to gain transferable skills,  which  will be valuable to them throughout their careers, not only in  the  nuclear  industry  but  also  in  other industrial sectors. We are delighted  that  UKAEA  and  some of the major contractors are committed to offering  apprenticeships  and will continue to encourage businesses of all sizes to become involved."

The five young people recruited to pilot the Modern Apprenticeship in Nuclear Operations and Decommissioning are:
UKAEA
- Hayley Davidson (19) from Keiss, previously studying for an HND in    Mechanical Engineering at North Highland College.
- Susan Henderson (18) from Wick, who has just finished her sixth year at    Wick High School.
-Michael Smith (19) from Thurso, previously an assistant in the butchery at a local supermarket.
-Darren Mackay (18) from Thurso, who previously worked in a shop.

RWE NUKEM
Colin Davidson (19) from Wick, who had undertaken a 19-week course in  decommissioning at North Highland College after a previous employer went into receivership.

The apprentices will attend day-release at North Highland College in Thurso to complete the National Certificate in Processing and the City and Guilds Radiation Safety Practice Part One certificate, with the possibility of progression to HNC. They will gain vocational qualifications at both levels 2 and 3, which requires 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 on and off site.

In addition to the four UKAEA Modern Apprentices in Nuclear Operations and Decommissioning, a further 17 people have been recruited to engineering, design, secretarial and scientific apprenticeships and training schemes at UKAEA Dounreay.

The Dounreay Site Restoration Plan published by UKAEA in October 2000 describes some 1500 projects required to decommission and restore the environment of the site over 50-60-years at a cost in the region of 4 billion. It can be viewed at www.ukaea.org.uk.   The current total value of nuclear decommissioning work in the UK is estimated to be in the region of 48 billion.