ATA to bridge nuclear skills gap

Atkins, the UK’s largest engineering consultancy, has announced plans to open its training academy to its industrial partners to help address the nuclear skills gap.

The group believes the academy will be vital to the UK’s nuclear-energy industry.

A recent report by nuclear national skills body, Cogent, has highlighted the need to train 1000 new nuclear engineers every year until 2025 to maintain the existing energy output from the sector.

Over the past two years, the Atkins nuclear-training academy has trained more than 550 engineers in specialist skills, taking on both recent graduates and experienced professionals from other disciplines.

The courses at the academy range from an introduction to the nuclear industry through to the design of fuel-storage facilities.

Chris Ball, director of nuclear at Atkins, said: ‘Because of our deep and historical involvement in the nuclear sector we decided to open our own Atkins Training Academy (ATA) in 2005.

‘It enabled us to extend our recruitment reach, bringing in new skills, while increasing the overall talent pool by training engineers who have not worked in the nuclear sector before.

‘Nuclear engineers have to have particularly high-level expertise because of the safety-critical environment they work in.

‘Through a two-year structured training course, Atkins engineers gain a deeper understanding of the industry.

‘In the past six months alone, we have trained more than 150 of our professional engineers and we have capacity to grow these numbers.

‘Atkins is dedicated to Britain’s nuclear future and as one of the leading engineering design consultancies in the field we want to ensure the skills gap is addressed.

‘We have invested in order to play a key role in that.’

Atkins is currently delivering engineering services for the clean-up at Sellafield.

The group is also a tier-one strategic partner to British Energy for the supply of engineering, safety and environmental services to maintain the current fleet of advanced gas-cooled reactors and its pressurised water reactor at Sizewell B in Suffolk.