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Energy: Skilled Workers

Volume 475: debated on Tuesday 6 May 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what assessment the Government have made of current and future skills needs in the (a) nuclear waste industries and (b) energy efficiency and renewable energy sectors. (202513)

The nuclear industry began a comprehensive review of its skills base in 2002. The Sector Skills Council Cogent became responsible for nuclear in 2004 and used the review to develop the sector skills agreement for the industry. The sector has also developed and launched a national Skills Academy for Nuclear, which will lead on training and skills development. The academy plans, on behalf of employers, to start learners on 1200 apprenticeships and 150 foundation degrees, while providing 4000 shorter courses to re-train existing staff over the next three years. It will also lead on delivery of the passport system to record skills and competencies. The needs for nuclear waste management are fully factored in to the academy's and employers’ plans.

Energy efficiency and renewables are mostly emerging technologies and it is hard to predict the exact timing of deployment. This makes it challenging to plan for skills delivery and, clearly, the production or large numbers of skilled people ahead of or behind demand for their services would be unhelpful. Employers and Sector Skills Councils are in early discussions about skills strategies (possibly leading to Skills Academies) for waste and environmental services, which would cover microgeneration and waste-to-energy, while the wind industry has just started discussions of its own. On the wider front, energy skills are largely generic and transferable, so people trained in the more developed skills programmes (nuclear, process and oil and gas) could provide a resource for renewable energy in the future.