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Nuclear Industry (Skills Council)

Volume 401: debated on Friday 14 March 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what plans she has to create a skills council for the nuclear industry.[101997]

The British Nuclear Industries Forum, the trade association for the nuclear sector, and Cogent, the Sector Skills Council for oil and gas extraction, chemicals manufacture and petroleum, are in discussion about creating Cogent Plus, a Sector Skills Council serving these four sectors plus polymers.Like other applications for Sector Skills Council (SSC) status, the application will be subject to approval by the Sector Skills Development Agency, but this initiative has my full support. There are strong synergies between the nuclear sector and the proposed elements of Cogent Plus, and it offers a solid base for ensuring that the skills needed by the sector will be maintained and updated over the long term.Assuming Cogent Plus is formally approved as an SSC it will take forward implementation of the recommendations set out in the report on nuclear skills published by the Department last year. These related in particular to the promotion of science and engineering to young people, the provision of support to teachers, the development of national occupational standards, the wider adoption of modern apprenticeship schemes within the nuclear sector and the building of alliances with universities with a view to the development of customised courses and academic centres of excellence capable of servicing the future needs and requirements of the nuclear sector.