Rolls-Royce has opened the doors of its new Nuclear Skills Academy in Derby, with 200 new apprentices from all walks of life starting their nuclear careers.
The Nuclear Skills Academy is the first training centre of its kind, and aims to sustain nuclear capability within the UK’s submarines programme by creating a dedicated pipeline of talent at the start of their careers.
The Nuclear Skills Academy is supported by industry and education experts, including the Nuclear AMRC, National College for Nuclear, University of Derby and Derby City Council. This ensures new apprentices have access to the best courses and mentors throughout their apprenticeship.
Rolls-Royce announced its plans for the Nuclear Skills Academy in May 2022 to huge interest from across the UK. More than 1,200 people applied for the 200 places available in its 2022–23 academic year.
Steve Carlier, President, Rolls-Royce Submarines, said: “We are thrilled by the levels of interest in these apprenticeships, and it highlights how attractive a career in the nuclear sector really is. With the growing demand for clean carbon-free energy and with our submarines contracts with the MoD likely to sustain us into the next century, this could be a job for life for our new apprentices.
“Having started with Rolls-Royce as an apprentice myself and being born and bred in Derby, the launch of the Nuclear Skills Academy is especially exciting for me. I’m delighted that we are leading the way in developing nuclear talent for the submarines enterprise and proud that it will all be done in Derby.”
The Nuclear Skills Academy has funding to provide 200 apprentices each year with nuclear education across four different courses for at least the next 10 years. The support of key industry organisations in driving the project forward has been invaluable for Rolls-Royce.
Andrew Storer from the Nuclear AMRC spoke of the importance of collaboration: “We need to work together to tackle skills shortages which affect the whole nuclear sector. The organisations backing the Nuclear Skills Academy will ensure that apprentices have the best training and support and develop the skills to deliver the UK’s commitments for low-carbon power and national security. As a former Derby apprentice, I am very proud that we are helping set a new standard for training which could be rolled out across the sector.”
In August, the Nuclear AMRC secured £1.3 million funding from Innovate UK to help fund bespoke training equipment and IT facilities for engineering apprentices at the new centre.
Helen Higgs from National College for Nuclear said: “The Nuclear Skills Academy is a significant development for the sector, and the National College for Nuclear is delighted to be able to play a vital role in its creation and future development.
“Collaboration between ourselves, industry and education partners is at the heart of NCfN’s delivery model and our vision, and this is a fantastic example of how that partnership can bring about world-class opportunities for many apprentices.”
The apprenticeships are spread across all functions of Rolls-Royce including engineering, manufacturing and business. They provide fully-funded further and higher education qualifications, while the apprentices receive hands-on practical work experience within the business.
The courses are accredited through the University of Derby and National College for Nuclear.
Professor Kathryn Mitchell CBE DL, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of the University of Derby, said: “Equipping the future workforce with the skills and knowledge required to assure a pipeline of talent into the nuclear industry is crucial. The University is delighted to be playing a key role in this.
“Derby is a city at the cutting edge of engineering and manufacturing, with an internationally renowned reputation as a centre for industrial innovation. The Academy will further strengthen this and is set to be a game-changer in how we respond, at pace, to the evolving skills needs of the country.”
The home of the Nuclear Skills Academy is an iconic building on Infinity Park Derby, formerly known as the iHub. The hope is to position the East Midlands as the centre of nuclear excellence in the UK.
Councillor Chris Poulter, Leader of Derby City Council, said: “This is an exciting opportunity for the people of Derby which will help to further build our reputation as a city of innovation. It is vital that we bring forward the next generation into the nuclear industry and apprenticeships are a fantastic way for those of all ages to earn while they learn.
“The skills academy will also support key employers in the city and help to secure future talent in years to come.”
Applications for the 2023–24 academic intake will open from October 2022.
For 60 years, Rolls-Royce has provided the power for all of the Royal Navy’s nuclear submarines from its base in Raynesway, Derby. Their work ensures submariners have the power to protect the UK’s interests at home and further afield.