Extra funding for Nuclear Skills Academy

By 22 August 2022 September 9th, 2022 Nuclear AMRC news

The Nuclear AMRC has secured additional funding from Innovate UK to develop and deliver state-of-the-art training equipment for the new Nuclear Skills Academy in Derby.

The £1.3 million investment will help fund bespoke training equipment and IT facilities for engineering apprentices at the new training centre at Infinity Park Derby. The Nuclear Skills Academy will open its doors in September to train 200 apprentices a year for Rolls-Royce’s submarine propulsion business.

“There are significant skills shortages across the nuclear sector, and we urgently need to develop a new generation of skilled nuclear engineers to deliver the UK’s commitments for low-carbon power and national security,” says Andrew Storer, CEO of the Nuclear AMRC. “High-quality training needs high-quality equipment tailored to the needs of the industry, and this new funding from Innovate UK helps ensure that apprentices at the Nuclear Skills Academy will be able to develop their skills on state-of-the-art equipment for advanced manufacturing. As a former Derby apprentice myself, I am very proud that we are helping set a new standard for training in the sector.”

The Nuclear AMRC, based at the University of Sheffield, is part of the UK’s High Value Manufacturing Catapult, a national alliance of seven leading manufacturing research centres backed by Innovate UK. The new funding has been provided by Innovate UK to support the Catapult’s work in addressing future skills gaps in key industries.

“Innovate UK is working closely with the Catapults to invest in skills development, a critical part of driving innovation and capitalising on emerging technologies,” says David Wilkes, Director of Innovation Ecosystem at Innovate UK. “The additional £1.3 million funding to Nuclear AMRC for the Nuclear Skills Academy, provided by Innovate UK through the HVM Catapult, will help provide the foundations needed to strengthen the UK’s R&D system to enable recovery and growth across the economy.”

“The Nuclear Skills Academy is a much-needed investment in the skills that will enable low carbon power across the UK,” Katherine Bennett, CEO of the HVM Catapult. “By connecting our world-class engineers to the future workforce, we are making sure that the next generation is not just prepared for the cutting-edge technologies of today, but also the emerging technologies of tomorrow. This will ensure the right skills are available for a vibrant future economy.”

Rolls-Royce is creating an extra 200 apprenticeships each year, for at least the next 10 years, providing a regular flow of new nuclear expertise to support Rolls-Royce’s commitments to the UK submarines programme. There has been strong interest in the four-year apprenticeships, with more than 1,200 applications for the initial 200 places. Offers have been made to more than 180 people.

Training will be led by the University of Derby, using material developed by the National College for Nuclear. The National College for Nuclear is a federation of education providers at further education and higher education levels, providing apprenticeship and training for nuclear projects.

The Nuclear Skills Academy will be based at the former iHub building at Infinity Park Derby. The University of Derby is working to develop the facility, and convert the building into a classroom learning space.

iHub is owned by Derby City Council, and opened in 2016 as a flexible workspace for start-ups, early-stage businesses and high-growth SMEs. The council is now working with existing iHub office tenants to manage their move to other properties within the Connect Derby estate or to find alternative premises.

The Nuclear AMRC has occupied workshops and offices in iHub since 2019. Construction is now underway on Infinity Park for a new full-scale home for Nuclear AMRC Midlands.

As well as allowing the Nuclear AMRC to expand its capabilities in areas including digital engineering, equipment qualification, and controls and instrumentation, the new 4,300m2 facility will also provide a new home to the University of Derby’s Institute of Innovation in Sustainable Engineering. The Nuclear AMRC Midlands facility is part-funded by £9 million from the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership.