By Francesca James

The nuclear industry will play a major role in securing the nation’s energy supplies and driving economic growth, Energy Minister John Hayes and Business and Enterprise Minister Michael Fallon said today as they published the Government’s Nuclear Supply Chain Action Plan.

The comments come as a campaign is launched to fill around 500 skilled jobs at the Sellafield nuclear site in West Cumbria. The roles will include operations and maintenance staff, engineers, project managers and back-office functions. They will be filled by a mixture of apprentices, graduates, and trainees and ex-military personnel will be specifically targeted in the recruitment process.

John Hayes, Energy Minister, said:

“Energy is central to our economic future and at the heart of all we do as a nation.

“Just as atoms collide in a nuclear reactor, the economic benefits of our nuclear renaissance will reverberate far and wide across the country.

“The announcement of 500 jobs at Sellafield today shows the immense contribution of the nuclear sector to the UK economy, in particular that of West Cumbria.

“Our Action Plan for the nuclear supply chain will set out how the UK can make the most of future opportunities presented by around £60bn of new investment.”

Michael Fallon, Business Minister, said:

“This action plan is an important part of our work with industry to shape a vibrant UK nuclear industry, and to ensure the UK exploits the commercial opportunities that exist and is a leading player in the expanding global nuclear market.

“We are determined to exploit our strengths and believe this is a sector where a partnership between government and industry can help give the UK a competitive edge in the global race. It’s a key sector in our industrial strategy.”

The Government’s Supply Chain Action Plan — developed with the nuclear industry — contains actions designed to ensure that the UK supply chain is competitive and ready to deliver. Key actions include:

Establishment of the Nuclear Industry Council — which will hold its first meeting in the first quarter of 2013;
Establishment of working groups of major companies from each sub-sector to identify challenges and the joint actions to improve readiness for new build;
Advice from the Nuclear Manufacturing Research Centre to help small to medium businesses bid for big contracts in the nuclear supply chain;
Addressing key skills shortages through targeted interventions that attract new people to the sector, including redeployment of existing skills and drawing in relevant skills from related industries (up-skilling where needed); and
Development of a coordinated nuclear export strategy with agreed market priorities and the development of specific campaigns, to enhance the nuclear industry’s understanding of, and access to, export opportunities.

Welcoming the Action Plan, Andrew Storer, Programme Director, Rolls Royce Civil Nuclear, said:

“Rolls-Royce is delighted that the Government is continuing to demonstrate its commitment to supporting the growth and development of the UK nuclear industry with the publication of this action plan.

“This action plan will show how Government and industry can work together to identify opportunities to ensure the UK can maximise the economic growth opportunity that will be generated from the nuclear new build programme in the UK.

“We are pleased to have been one of the many industry organisations involved in the development of this action plan, and we believe the UK supply chain will benefit significantly as a result.

“Publication of the action plan is the first step on the journey to realising benefits for the UK supply chain. Rolls-Royce is keen to continue to help ensure it is implemented successfully, alongside the deployment of a new fleet of nuclear power plants in the UK.”