Island Nuclear Workers Retraining Boost
by J Roberts
Retraining opportunities for Anglesey nuclear workers
The Welsh Government is providing £4m to help Anglesey and North West Wales adjust to the closure of Wylfa nuclear power station at Cemaes.
Welsh Government Enterprise Minister, Edwina Hart, has just launched a special £4m programme designed to assist around 1,200 nuclear industry workers at the Wylfa and Trawsfynydd sites to plan their future careers.
Meanwhile the enterprise agency on Anglesey, Menter Mon has a project called "Shaping the Future", and this aims to tackle the various challenges thrown up by these profound changes to the nuclear industry, arising from the necessary decommissioning programmes at the two sites within the region.
The Menter Mon scheme aims to offer careers advice, mentoring, training and job search support geared to give the workforce the best chance of securing future employment opportunities locally.
The Welsh Government supported project will also emphasise training and development opportunities in order to attract inward investment onto Anglesey, consistent with the ambitions of the Energy Island initiative. This way the local economy will maximise the existing skills and knowledge already available in the island workforce.
There is also a £2.3m European Social Fund support underpinning the initiative, as well as funding from the Mon a Menai project through the Welsh Government, and £1.2 million from the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority and additional support from Gwynedd and Anglesey County Councils.
The Minister said:"Helping the north west Wales workforce prepare for the future, grasp new opportunities and secure sustainable, alternative employment is essential to meet the challenges arising from structural change in the regional economy.
Our use of EU and other funding demonstrates how we can back up our tailor-made policies with resources to support our ambition to secure a highly skilled and adaptable workforce for a modern economy."
programme will make available 1 to 1 mentoring and help build individual action plans, focusing on any transferable skills gaps.
A training programme to retrain and re-skill the workforce will also be available, as well as specific initiatives to help individuals secure new jobs or to start up their own local business enterprise.
Judy Craske, Project Director, Shaping the Future, said:"Shaping the Future is an exemplar of how the public and private sectors can work together to pre-emptively address structural employment shifts and boost the diversity of regional economies.
At a time of national and global shortages in key technical skills and engineering expertise, North West Wales offers a unique concentration of scarce and sought after skills for employers to tap into."
Meanwhile, the Wylfa Nuclear Power Station has announced it is shutting down Reactor 2 permanently on 30 April 2012, after around 41 years of producing electricity. The other reactor will continue under the planned extension untiol 2014.
Site Director Stuart Law praised the local workforce which has produced electricity at Wylfa for over 40 years with a very commendable safety record.
Plans for a replacement nuclear plant, called Wylfa B, to be up and running by 2025 have taken a hit following the recent announcement that Horizon Nuclear Power are withdrawing from the major project. This follows difficulties encountered by the two joint venture partners, the German utility giants RWE and E.ON.
In the meantime, the UK government is desperately trying to establish whether a new consortium might be interested in taking on the Horizon challenge. Recently, the Russian nuclear Company Rosatom expressed an interest in building plants in theh UK, including Wylfa.
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