UK Nuclear Skills Awards 22nd March 2012

On the 22nd March 2012 the nuclear stars of the future were announced during the fourth annual UK Nuclear Skills Awards Evening in Manchester organised by the National Skills Academy for Nuclear and Cogent Sector Skills Council.

 The event, hosted by Alexander Armstrong was attended by over 400 nuclear employers, training providers and key stakeholders who came together to celebrate the success and high achievement of learners nominated for awards in Apprentice, Foundation Degree/HND and Graduate disciplines.

The top award of the evening was the heavily contested UK Nuclear Apprentice of the Year which was won by James Watmore of Darchem Engineering, who also won the Supply Chain Nuclear Apprentice of the Year category.  James completed his apprenticeship in Engineering, Fabrication and Welding and now works as a Production Engineer.  James commented that he really enjoyed the learning aspect of his apprenticeship, stating that everyday is different, providing new opportunities to learn new skills.  Through completing an Apprenticeship James feels that he has increased his confidence, his skills base and work ethics.  His employer commended James’s commitment and maturity stating that he is regularly used as a Poster Apprentice for all Apprentices who join Darchem.

The UK Nuclear Apprentice of the Year is decided from the Regional Nuclear Apprentice of the Year winners and the winner of the Supply Chain Apprentice Award.  The other Regional Apprentices of the Year were…

The North of England Nuclear Apprentice of the Year was awarded to Paul Gavin who works for URENCO UK Ltd.  Paul completed an Electrical and Instrumentation Apprenticeship and currently works as an Engineering Technician.  Paul was ecstatic about being nominated for the award, and commented that he has really enjoyed every aspect of his Apprenticeship which has enabled him to have a mixture of academic and hands on experience.   He would encourage anyone looking to do an Apprenticeship with the nuclear industry to go for it, stating that it provides an excellent portfolio upon which you can build your career.

The South of England Nuclear Apprentice of the Year was awarded to Ben Williams who completed an Engineering Apprenticeship with Bridgwater College and currently works as an Electrical Maintenance Technician with EDF Energy.  Ben commented that he is proud to be nominated for the award and has found that he enjoyed taking an active hands on approach, learning cutting edge technology, as it happens.  He would highly recommend an apprenticeship to anyone, stating that it is the best learning process for practically based people, and now he feels he has completed his apprenticeship he has many more career options available to him.

 The Scottish Nuclear Apprentice of the Year was awarded to Andrew Tait who completed his Apprenticeship in Mechanical Engineering with Edeta Training and works on the Torness Site with EDF Energy. Completing his apprenticeship has enabled Andrew to gain hands on experience and achieve Nationally Recognised Qualifications.  He enjoyed working alongside more experienced technicians and now feels confident within a team setting and hopes to take on a leadership role in the future.

 The Welsh Nuclear Apprentice of the Year was won by Bryn Jones.  Bryn completed his Apprenticeship in Engineering with Coleg Menai and currently works as a Production Technician on the Wylfa Site with Magnox Ltd.  Bryn would not hesitate to recommend Apprenticeships to people stating that he found it to be an excellent way of learning and developing new skills.  He has found the different aspects of his Apprenticeship very interesting including learning about the site, engineering and gaining maintenance experience.

 The Foundation Degree/HND Student of the Year was Matthew Messenger who completed a Foundation Degree in Instrumentation and Control with GEN II and currently works for Sellafield Ltd as a Programmable Electronic (PES) Engineer.   Matthew would encourage anyone who is thinking of completing a Foundation Degree or HND stating that he found it challenging and rewarding.  He was attracted to working in the nuclear industry because the sector has lots of prospects and offers long term careers.

 The UK Nuclear Graduate of the Year was awarded to Aujas Mistry who works for AMEC.  Aujas completed a Masters Degree in Mechanical Engineering. He commented that he has found the nuclear industry to be very exciting, due to the decommissioning of the old reactors and new build.  He has found his degree essential to his current role on the structural team, as it has enabled him to hit the ground running.  Aujas’s employer commented that they would not hesitate to recommend him to any internal or external projects, stating that he is not thought of as a graduate by his peers and superiors, he is far beyond this.

The evening not only highlighted the achievement of the future stars, it also highlighted the hard work which is being undertaken by existing people within the Nuclear sector to help to raise the skills levels within their own organisations and for the sector itself.  The Cogent award for Outstanding Leadership in Skills was awarded to Gill Marsden from NIS Ltd. 

 For this award the judges were looking for someone who had gone beyond their job description.  This was certainly the case for Gill; in early 2009 Gill developed and introduced a formal Corporate Social Responsibility programme into NIS. As part of this Gill developed a strand on people – with the stated aim for NIS to be the employer of choice within the communities in which it operates. Gill put in place a vision that the organisation would recognise all its employees as individuals; treat them with respect and ensure they have a safe and rewarding working environment. This CSR plan commits the organisation to “providing competent management, whose actions are just, ethical and supportive of employees’ family obligations, and promotes a workplace where achievements are recognised and rewarded, and communications are inclusive.”

Gill also ensured that NIS was one of the first SMEs to implement the Nuclear Skills Passport and has been instrumental in its successful application across the company. Gill has given presentations to other supply chain companies at a number of different forums in the sector to share experience and knowledge of the Nuclear Skills Passport, encouraging the adoption of this important national scheme

Charles Hendry MP, the Minister for Energy commented;

“I’d like to congratulate all the winners of the UK Nuclear Skills Awards. They are the future of the UK nuclear industry and show the depth of talent we have in this country.

 “The UK’s nuclear new build programme is expected to create 30,000 construction and 4,800 operational jobs over the next decade. Many of these jobs will be highly skilled and the apprentices and trainees celebrated by the UK Nuclear Skills Awards will be the ones filling these roles in a career that could last a lifetime.

“I wish the winners the very best for their future careers.”

 Jean Llewellyn OBE, Chief Executive of the National Skills Academy for Nuclear said;

 “The UK Nuclear Skills Awards highlights the exceptional quality of people of all levels, who are committed to careers in the nuclear sector.   Apprenticeships, Foundation Degrees/HNDs and Degrees are key avenues for replenishing and building skills for the nuclear sector. It is extremely important to highlight the real and tangible contributions which these students make to their organisations on a daily basis.

 I would like to personally congratulate all of the winners, they are all examples of excellence in skills development and I wish them all the very best for the future”

 Joanna Woolf, Chief Executive of Cogent Sector Skills Council said:

  “These Awards are a now a fiercely competitive process, and the volume and quality of applications demonstrates the commitment the nuclear industry has in investing in future talent. The award winners here tonight represent that talent – they are taking away a prestigious accolade, as well as recognition from their peers that they are achieving excellence in skills. We’re delighted to celebrate their success – every winner is a shining example of how skills development can advance career success.”


Further information about the evening can be found on the menu to the right.

Pictured above:  

From l-r back row, Liam Manning (EDF Energy) – Finalist for the South of England Apprentice of the Year, Matthew Sutherland (DSRL) – Finalist for the Scottish Apprentice of the Year and FD/HND Student of the Year, Michael Macaskill (JGC Engineering)- Finalist for the Supply Chain Nuclear Apprentice of the Year, Alexander Armstrong – Awards Host, Matthew Messenger (Sellafield Ltd) - Winner of the FD/HND Student of the Year, Aujas Mistry (AMEC) - Winner of the Nuclear Graduare of the Year Award, William Metcalf (Westinghouse/Springfields) - Finalist for the North of England Apprentice of the Year, Glen Greer (Doosan Babcock) -Finalist for the Welsh Apprentice of the Year, Huw Edwards (Magnox Ltd) – Finalist for the Welsh Apprentice of the Year, Catherine Fisher (Lab Impex) - Finalist for the Nuclear Supply Chain Apprentice of the Year, Lisa Topley (Sellafield Ltd)- Finalist for the Nuclear Graduate Award, Lee Mitchell (Nuvia) – Finalist for the North of England Apprentice of the Year, Ben Williams (EDF Energy) - Winner of the South of England Apprentice of the Year, Bryn Jones (Magnox Ltd) - Winner of the Welsh Apprentice of Year,  Adrian Crowe (EDF Energy) - Finalist for the North of England Apprentice of the Year.

From l-r front row, Louise Stubbs (AWE) – Finalists for the South of England Apprentice of the Year, Andrew Tait ( EDF Energy) - Winner of the Scottish Apprentice of the Year, Christopher Lithgo (Doosan Babcock) - Finalist for the South of England Apprentice of the Year, James Watmore (Darchem) -Winner of the Supply Chain Apprentice of the Year and UK Nuclear Apprentice of the Year, Paul Gavin (URENCO) - Winner of the North of England Apprentice of the Year, Gill Marsden (NIS Ltd) - Winner of the Outstanding Leadership in Skills Award and Adedoyin Maria Thompson (Westinghouse/Springfields) - Finalist of the Graduate of the Year Award.