Shadow Skills and Further Education Minister visits UK’s first Nuclear Skills Facility

13 July 2023

Today (13 July), Toby Perkins MP, Shadow Minister for Skills and Further Education, toured the Nuclear Skills Academy in Derby, the UK’s first dedicated facility for training the next generation of nuclear engineers.  

The Academy, which welcomed its first apprentices in September 2022, was established by Rolls-Royce, the University of Derby and industry partners including Derby City Council, Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (NAMRC), and the National College for Nuclear.

The Academy will create a dedicated pipeline of talent to support the United Kingdom’s submarine fleet, and the new AUKUS submarine for the Australian Royal Navy. The power and propulsion for the current fleet is manufactured by Rolls-Royce from its Raynesway facility in Derby.

Toby Perkins, Member of Parliament for Chesterfield, toured the Nuclear Skills Academy and met with apprentices who are currently enrolled at the Academy. During his visit, he also participated in a roundtable discussion with representatives from the University, Rolls-Royce and University Alliance – of which the University is a member – on plans for building the UK’s future workforce.

Professor Kathryn Mitchell CBE DL, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Derby, said: “The University has played a key leading role in the development of the Nuclear Skills Academy, and we are delighted with its success to date.

“Through our apprenticeship delivery, we are producing a pipeline of outstanding graduates and engineering technicians, who are ready to meet regional and national skills needs now and in the future. By working in close partnership with industry and responding to their needs, we have together created a highly effective model that can help address the UK’s nuclear skills challenge.”

Toby Perkins MP, Shadow Minister for Skills and Further Education, said: “It was wonderful to visit the Nuclear Skills Academy today and take a tour of the facility. It was great to meet some of the apprentices at the site and to discuss with staff their future plans for apprenticeships and skills.”

Lee Warren, Engineering & Technology Director at Rolls-Royce Submarines Ltd, said: “As a former apprentice myself, I know how valuable it is to learn and develop through both education and on-the-job training. As we come to the end of our first academic year at the Nuclear Skills Academy, I have been delighted by the passion, commitment and proficiency of our apprentices. Their enthusiasm is contagious and I look forward to what the next academic year will bring.”

Vanessa Wilson, Chief Executive of University Alliance, said: “The Nuclear Skills Academy is one of the best examples of how University Alliance members like the University of Derby are working with industry to deliver high-level skills for the future.

“The world is changing faster than ever. We will need high-level skills, research and innovation to build a thriving green economy and healthy society for the future. It is essential that government takes a long-term strategic view of the knowledge and skills we need as a country, and works closely with universities, industry and employers to meet those needs and enable the path to innovation and opportunity.”

Earlier this year, the University of Derby and Rolls-Royce won the ‘Employer & Training Provider Partnership Award’ at the UK Nuclear Skills Awards 2023, in recognition of the strong partnership working between the two organisations on the Nuclear Skills Academy.

Find out more about the Nuclear Skills Academy. 

Staff at the University of Derby and Rolls-Royce pictured with MP Toby Perkins and Vanessa Wilson from University Alliance smiling in the foyer of the Nuclear Skills Academy
L-R: Professor Chris Bussell, Professor Kathryn Mitchell CBE DL, Steve Layton (Rolls-Royce), MP Toby Perkins, Dr Louise Richards, Vanessa Wilson (University Alliance) and Jason Pimborough

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