The Energy Minister, Greg Hands is due to open one of three new training centres to support the Hinkley Point C project in Somerset, on Thursday 28th April 2022. Together with existing facilities and investment into education and skills, the centres will be ready to help local people join the additional 4,000 workers needed for the next phase of the power station’s construction.
The Minister will unveil the new Welding Centre of Excellence at Bridgwater and Taunton College’s campus in Bridgwater this morning. The project has invested £8 million into the three new training centres, in partnership with the college. The Welding Centre will train and qualify 500 welders a year, helping local people into work and meeting skills shortages in the South West and across Britain.
Many trainees live in the local area and will take advantage of the jobs being created for Hinkley Point C’s next phase, which will see miles of pipes and electrical cables being fitted across the power station.
It comes as Hinkley Point C publishes its 2022 Socio-Economic Impact Report, which shows that:
• The opportunities provided by Hinkley Point C are playing an important role in improving social mobility in the South West – making a difference to people who need support.
• The District of Sedgemoor is seeing the largest growth in household income of any area in Devon and Somerset – above the regional average and above cities like Exeter and Plymouth.
• The project has trained 922 apprentices and is on track to hit its target of hiring 1,000 apprentices during construction later this year.
• £4.1 billion has been spent directly with companies in the South West so far.
• The local area is directly benefitting from Hinkley Point C’s investment and the town of Bridgwater is now outperforming major regional cities in terms of productivity.
• 1,400 companies in the South West are now involved in building Hinkley Point C, with 14,000 jobs across the region expected to be supported throughout the project.
The welding facility is the latest Centre of Excellence to be opened in support of the Hinkley Point C project, which has now invested a total of £24 million into education, skills, and employment support. It joins the Electrical Centre of Excellence in Bridgwater and the Construction Skills and Innovation Centre, in Cannington. A Mechanical Centre of Excellence will open in Cannington this summer, to train students in pipefitting, steel erection and plating. Together they will support the next phase of the project, as electrical systems and major components begin to be installed.
The centres will provide new routes to people who are looking to start a career in construction, regardless of their background or skill set. New training courses have been launched, including the government’s Bootcamp scheme, T-level work experience placements and supported traineeships.
Hinkley Point C’s Managing Director, Stuart Crooks said: “The energy crisis has shown the need for Hinkley Point C’s reliable, low-carbon electricity is more urgent than ever. This report shows the project is also delivering big social and economic benefits in the communities that host us and beyond. It’s good news to see that productivity and prosperity is rising locally and we’ve worked hard to ensure that people in the region can benefit from the many job opportunities on offer in the next phase of construction.”
Andy Berry, Principle and Chief Executive of Bridgwater & Taunton College, said: “The partnership between Bridgwater & Taunton College and Hinkley Point C continues to open up new training and employment opportunities for everyone – no matter their age, background or previous skill set. The new training Centres of Excellence are not only making a difference to local career prospects today but will ensure Somerset has the skills needed for the next generation of net-zero projects.”
Doug Bamsey, Deputy Chief Executive at Sedgemoor District Council, said: “We are proud to be hosting one of Britain’s most important low carbon energy projects. Along with the new training facilities, Hinkley Point C is also bringing new jobs, economic growth and substantial investment that is clearly making a difference to the local area. As we move into the next phase, we are looking forward to ensuring the substantial longer term economic and social legacy for the community can be realised.”
Paula Hewitt, Deputy Chief Executive at Somerset County Council, said: “It’s really heartening to see the positive socio-economic benefits of Hinkley Point C being delivered right here in Somerset – driving levelling up of our communities and making a difference to the lives and future prospects for thousands of people. The results we see today are testament to many years of collaboration between EDF and local partners. I look forward to ensuring that these new facilities and our highly skilled local supply chain can continue to reap the rewards in the longer term.”
Meg Moore – 29, Bridgwater Trainee Reactor Operator
Meg grew up in North Wales and secured a job as an operations engineer at Hinkley Point B as part of an EDF graduate scheme. She is now training to become a future Reactor Operator at Hinkley Point C and is living in Bridgwater.
“The course is rigorous because it’ll be our job to ensure the reactor units run safely. We’ve got simulator replicas of the Main Control Room, where we are tested and put through realistic scenarios. It feels like the real deal.
“My classmates come from different backgrounds – many enrolled on the course with no prior nuclear experience, and it creates a great environment for learning. It’s amazing to think we’ll play such a key role in the commissioning role of the power station.”
Stephen Mortimer – 50, Stogursey, West Somerset General Operative
Stephen spent 13 years working with a commercial tyre business but was made redundant during the pandemic. He was eager to secure another job in the Somerset area. He applied to one of Hinkley Point C’s training programmes and secured a job on site soon after.
“Lots of my friends who live near me in the village work at Hinkley Point C. So, when I was made redundant, I knew there could be opportunities available on the project that would suit my skills.
“I enrolled on the Hinkley Support Operative bronze level train training programme in January 2022 and interviewed for different roles at the site off the back of it. I had lots of job offers, and eventually accepted a job as a Traffic Marshall.”
Liam Dale – 23, Taunton Graduate of Hinkley Point C’s Supported Traineeship
Liam went to Elmwood School in Bridgwater and studied English, maths, and cookery. His teacher told him about Hinkley Point C’s Supported Traineeship, a programme to help young adults with additional needs take their first steps on the career ladder. After completing the course, Liam secured a job as cleaner with the site’s accommodation provider, Host. Three years on, Liam is now working with Hinkley Point C’s catering provider, Somerset Larder, where he hopes to develop his interest in cooking.
“I’ve really enjoyed meeting people and potential employers. Everyone has been nice. I don’t drive but they pick me up by bus which is brilliant. I love my job, there’s nothing I don’t like about it. I’ve made lots of friends here. My goal is to one day become a chef”.