UK Faces Welding Skills Shortage for Nuclear Future

ECITB Announce £4m Funding

In a bid to end the current shortage of welders in the engineering construction industry, the Engineering Construction Industry Training Board (ECITB) has invested £4m of industry funding into welding training and development.

The £4m investment comes in support of a consortium of employers who will be involved in the up-coming Nuclear New Build programme. The companies, led by Doosan Babcock, include Alstom Power, Tei Ltd, Shaw Group, PJ Douglas and Babcock International who won a successful bid through the Employer Ownership of Skills pilot securing £4m of government funding for welding training. This brings the total investment to £8m.

Martyn Fletcher Director of Operations Support, Doosan Babcock and ECITB Regional Chairman said: “High integrity pipe welding is a major skills gap in engineering construction, and has been cited as a specific skills risk to nuclear new build delivery. The employer opportunity pilot has allowed us to secure significant investment to address this risk quickly.

“It is hoped that the project will establish two new qualifications to recognise skills and career progression and demonstrate alternative routes to success as a vital addition to apprenticeships. It is also envisioned to engage more employers in active skills development as well as secure public sector funding support for sustained delivery of these skills.

“Having only launched the project 6 weeks ago, we are already over-subscribed with expressions of interest and requests for involvement on the project, demonstrating the vital need to the UK. It is excellent to see ECITB supporting this project.”

As the UK embarks on a new nuclear future, ensuring the skills needed to design, build, decommission and maintain nuclear infrastructure is a priority for the ECITB. The ECITB investment is available as grants to employers towards the training costs of up-skilling existing welders and bringing new welders to the industry. It is just one step towards securing the skills needed for the nuclear sector; in particular high integrity welding skills, critical for nuclear new build.

The ECITB is expanding the welding training and qualification suite, on behalf of industry to include:

  • A Qualification in Advanced Welding Techniques
  • A Qualification in Welding Supervision
  • A Higher Apprenticeship in Advanced Welding
  • Entrance Level 2 and also in Level 3 qualifications

The Government funding for these training programmes is available to all companies based in England and along with the subsidised ECITB grants, it is envisaged that there will be minimal cost to the employer. The ECITB funding will be available in Scotland and Wales too, although employers in these regions will incur some costs.

“Without suitably qualified and experienced welding personnel the nuclear new build programme will be at risk”, said ECITB Sector Manager, Nuclear, John Warden. “By investing in the training of welders, we can ensure that when nuclear new build gets the green light, our industry is equipped with the right skilled personnel to hit the ground running.”

This £8m combined investment proposes to deliver an extra 290 skilled welders into the industry over two years, and up-skilling recognition for 300 others. The skill sets delivered will vary from Level 2, Level 3 and Level 4 high integrity welders; to welding supervisors.

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About the Engineering Construction Industry Training Board

The ECITB is the statutory and charitable body set up to secure engineering construction skills now and for the future. It has delivered training successfully to over one million learners over 20 years, and is led and funded by employers from the industry, ensuring the services are relevant and fit for purposeThe ECITB provides professional advice, information, skills development and qualifications to help individuals in engineering construction and anyone interested in a career in the industry to succeed. A dedicated website has been set up to provide more detailed information The ECITB sets a range of occupational and training standards, awards industry specific qualifications and invests £20 million each year in support of apprentices and adult learners across a range of skills. From entry level craft and technician programmes through to advanced engineering project management skills. In 2011, 65,000 people were supported through the ECITB’s range of approved programmes delivered by a network of over 200 approved providers. The ECITB strategy is built on three objectives, these are to attract, qualify and develop talented people for the industry. The ECITB operating processes that secure the depth, breadth and quality of service are: employer engagement, identification of skills needs and priorities, stakeholder and provider engagement, delivery and continuous improvement. The ECITB provides support to employers, their employees and apprentices to design, build, maintain and decommission nuclear, power, pharmaceutical, renewables, chemicals, food, water, oil & gas facilities and other processes.

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