NSSG welcomes Spring Budget measures to boost STEM education, skills and lifelong learning
The Nuclear Skills Strategy Group (NSSG) of leading nuclear employers has welcomed the Chancellor‘s Spring budget plans to commit an additional £500 million in Government funding, every year, for training 16 to 19-year-olds undertaking technical skills programmes. This funding will be rolled out from the 2019-20 financial year, reaching £500 million a year from 2022. It will coincide with the launch of a new system of technical education, as set out in the Government’s Post-16 Skills Plan last year.
The Budget also includes increasing age 16-19 training to 900 hours a year – a rise of more than 50 per cent; extending maintenance loans to students on level 4-6 technical courses at Institutes of Technology and National Colleges (including the National College for Nuclear - NCfN) and loans for part-time degree students.
The NSSG has also welcomed the Chancellor’s announcement of an additional £300m being made available for 1,000 new PhD places in science, technology, engineering and maths and for new fellowships, including programmes to attract top global talent to conduct scientific research.
Finally, the NSSG is also pleased to see £40m being made available for Department for Education (DfE) pilots on lifelong learning projects, aimed at reskilling and upskilling the existing workforce. This is a key consideration in nuclear as it moves from the decommissioning to the New Build agenda.
The NSSG acknowledges that all of this, together with the continued focus on apprenticeships growth, will support the development of the skills knowledge and expertise that nuclear employers need. The NSSG has itself developed a Nuclear Skills Strategic Plan, aimed at ensuring UK nuclear employers can recruit skilled people at the required rate to meet the sector’s ambitious forward programme and which aligns with the newly developing Industrial Strategy.
NSSG backing for “T levels”
The Chancellor also announced that the new qualifications within the 15 new routes will become known as “T levels” and are designed to provide a clearer path to highly skilled employment. These new routes will be reviewed by the NSSG to ensure they are preparing individuals for skilled employment in a range of STEM occupations in nuclear. The NSSG sees the NCfN as supporting the content of these new pathways, which are due to be launched in September 2019.
Dr Fiona Rayment, Director for Fuel Cycle Solutions NNL and Chair of the NSSG said:
“The NSSG welcomes the additional funding to support technical education, so essential to the high level, highly technical skills requirements of the nuclear sector, as it embarks upon building a new fleet of power stations, alongside continued decommissioning and the defence programme.
“The measures outlined support a strategic, long term approach to investment in skills and education and clearly align with the newly developing Industrial Strategy. We particularly support the aims of rationalised system of qualifications, more time in learning and, critically, the entitlement to a high quality work placement.”