Rolls-Royce opens Nuclear Skills Academy to first apprentices

The first 200 apprentices have this week walked through the doors of Rolls-Royce’s new Nuclear Skills Academy.

Based at Infinity Park, the academy is the first of its kind and aims to sustain nuclear capability within the UK’s submarines programme by creating a dedicated pipeline of talent at the start of their careers.

It is supported by industry and education experts, including the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, the National College for Nuclear, the University of Derby and Derby City Council.

Rolls-Royce Submarines announced its plans for the academy in May to huge interest from across the UK, with more than 1,200 applicants for only 200 places in its 2022-23 academic year.

Steve Carlier, president of Rolls-Royce Submarines, said: “We are thrilled by the levels of interest in these apprenticeships, and it highlights how attractive a career in the nuclear sector really is.

“With the growing demand for clean, carbon-free energy and with our submarines contracts with the Ministry of Defence likely to sustain us into the next century, this could be a job for life for our new apprentices.”

Councillor Chris Poulter, leader of the city council, said: “This is an exciting opportunity for the people of Derby, which will help to further build our reputation as a city of innovation.”

John Forkin, managing director of Marketing Derby, said: “Marketing Derby is delighted to see the new Nuclear Skills Academy open its doors to its first intake of apprentices.

“As the UK capital for innovation, it is great to see Derby play such a key role in developing the skills of future generations of nuclear engineers.”

For 60 years, Rolls-Royce has provided the power for all of the Royal Navy’s nuclear submarines from its base in Raynesway, Derby.

Its work ensures submariners have the power to protect the UK’s interests at home and further afield.

The Nuclear Skills Academy has the funding to provide 200 apprentices each year with nuclear education across four different courses for at least the next 10 years.

Rolls-Royce said that the support of key industry organisations in driving the project forward had been “invaluable”.
Andrew Storer, from the Nuclear AMRC, said: “We need to work together to tackle skills shortages which affect the whole nuclear sector.

“The organisations backing the Nuclear Skills Academy will ensure that apprentices have the best training and support and develop the skills to deliver the UK’s commitments for low-carbon power and national security.”

The apprenticeships are spread across all functions of Rolls-Royce’s business including engineering, manufacturing and business.

They provide fully funded, further and higher education qualifications, while the apprentices receive hands-on practical work experience within the business.

Each of the courses are accredited through the University of Derby and National College for Nuclear.

Professor Kathryn Mitchell, the university’s vice-chancellor and chief executive, said: “Equipping the future workforce with the skills and knowledge required to assure a pipeline of talent into the nuclear industry is crucial; the university is delighted to be playing a key role in this.

“Derby is a city at the cutting edge of engineering and manufacturing, with an internationally renowned reputation as a centre for industrial innovation.

“The academy will further strengthen this and is set to be a game-changer in how we respond, at pace, to the evolving skills needs of the country.”

The home of the Nuclear Skills Academy is owned by Derby City Council and was formerly known as the iHub.

Councillor Poulter said: “It is vital that we bring forward the next generation into the nuclear industry and apprenticeships are a fantastic way for those of all ages to earn while they learn.

“Additional funding worth £1.3 million has been secured from Innovate UK to help fund bespoke training equipment and IT facilities for apprentices at the new training centre.

“The skills academy will also support key employers in the city and help to secure future talent in years to come.”

Rolls-Royce said that applications for 2023-24 academic intake will be opening from next month.

Credit: Marketing Derby