New degree apprenticeship for nuclear engineers

By 26 April 2023 Nuclear AMRC news

Aspiring nuclear engineers and scientists have a new route into careers in low-carbon energy, with the launch of a degree apprenticeship delivered by the University of Sheffield AMRC Training Centre.

The Nuclear Scientist and Nuclear Engineer Degree Apprenticeship will produce graduate professionals who can work across the UK’s current and future civil nuclear programmes. It has been developed with the support of the Nuclear AMRC and industry partners including UKAEA, Westinghouse, Rolls-Royce, Sellafield and Jacobs.

The course has been designed to provide the engineering and management skills needed to ensure that nuclear systems and equipment can be operated safely and efficiently and in an environmentally sustainable way. Specialist modules include the principles of nuclear engineering, advanced manufacturing and materials for nuclear applications, and industry codes and standards.

Depending on previous experience, the course will take up to five years to complete. Graduates will qualify with a Bachelor of Engineering (Hons), and be well suited for roles including design, operational management, project management, plant performance enhancements and maintenance of safety standards.

AMRC Training Centre apprentices

The Nuclear AMRC and the AMRC Training Centre worked together to ensure that the course meets industry needs, coordinating input from employers in the nuclear supply chain and supporting development of the curriculum.

Liz Gregory, Supply Chain and Skills Director at the Nuclear AMRC, says: “We are committed to supporting our supply chain companies to obtain suitably qualified personnel to meet today’s challenges and those of the future. There is a real shortage of staff in the nuclear sector, so we are working hard with our partner organisations to meet their needs for high-quality training and to give young people the best possible start in the industry.”

Apprentices will be employed by a company working in the nuclear supply chain throughout their training. Their employer will pay the course fees plus a basic salary, either with support from the apprenticeship levy or via co-investment with the government if the employer doesn’t pay the levy. As part of their final year of study, the student will carry out an industrial project to tackle a real engineering challenge for their employer.

For people who want to work in nuclear but are not currently employed in the sector, the AMRC Training Centre can match applicants to a suitable employer.

Nikki Jones, Director of the AMRC Training Centre, says: “The nuclear sector is a rapidly-developing high-value sector in the UK with immense growth opportunities. With the new Nuclear Scientist and Nuclear Engineer Degree Apprenticeship, we want to feed into the skills bank for industry employers and also provide our apprentices with quality training and knowledge needed to get a head-start in the industry.

“Building on the AMRC Training Centre’s remarkable track record in apprenticeships in other high-value sectors, we’re confident that the new degree apprenticeship will be an excellent first step towards plugging the existing skills gap in the nuclear industry and will open up exciting, new opportunities for young people looking to get into the industry.”

AMRC Training Centre exterior

Applications for students are now open, with apprentices starting the new course in September. The course aims to help employers in the industry bridge the skills gap and develop their workforce. Employers can contact the AMRC Training Centre for more information.

With an estimated 150,000 skilled people needed to meet the UK’s target of 24GW of nuclear power by 2050, the Nuclear AMRC is currently expanding the support it provides to companies to support skills development. Last year, it worked with Rolls-Royce and other partners to create the Nuclear Skills Academy in Derby, which is now training its first cohort of 200 apprentices for Rolls-Royce’s submarine propulsion business. The Nuclear AMRC is also working with the other centres within the High Value Manufacturing Catapult on future workforce development across the full range of the UK’s advanced manufacturing sectors.