From education to employment

Science Fair connecting students to a future in nuclear

Credit : Nuclear Waste Services.

Nuclear Waste Services (NWS) and Women in Nuclear (WiN UK) hosted an event for young people to promote and showcase career opportunities in the nuclear industry

Around 150 students attended the first ever Nuclear Connection Science Fair in Oxford, hosted by NWS and Women in Nuclear (WiN UK) last week (Friday 10th).

The event was an opportunity for young people to learn more about the career prospects in the nuclear sector, and provided the opportunity to interact with successful professionals working in the industry today.

Nuclear Waste Services is part of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) group with a vision and mission that is vitally important to the UK today and for future generations. NWS is here to make nuclear waste permanently safe, sooner.

One of NWS’ major programmes, the GDF, is a nationally significant infrastructure project and is expected to create thousands of jobs. Nuclear is an essential part of net zero ambitions in the UK, and this is starting to attract young people into careers in the sector.

Students, teachers, parents and guardians from four secondary schools (Eden Girls Slough, Greyfriars, Didcot Girls and The Abbey) attended the fair in Oxsrad Sports and Leisure Centre in Headington, open to pupils from Year 9 to Sixth Form.

It was an opportunity for students to engage with presentations and have conversations to discover everything they want and need to know about nuclear science, and about the places it could take their future careers. 

The event included interactive games and activities with nuclear professionals, talks by key industry figures and a student poster exhibition and prizegiving.  Students participated in a poster competition that was opened ahead of the event, with the winners announced on the day. It also provided the opportunity to arrange work experience placements with significant nuclear industry players.

Louise Honeyman, Event Organiser, Co-leader for WiN UK Central England and Business Manager at NWS, said:

This was a chance to get young people still in education really fired up about science – and set them up with opportunities to pursue their passions.

“As nuclear ambitions develop here in the UK, alongside plans for the long-term disposal of nuclear waste, there is a real concern over a future skills shortage in the industry as more jobs in nuclear are expected to be created. There is a very real need to attract more young people into nuclear, and more specifically the nuclear waste sector.

“The event was a great success, it was fantastic to see so many young people eagerly engaged and keen to learn about a career in the nuclear industry – and we are keen to attract them!  There are a huge range of careers on offer in the sector, looking for a variety of different skill sets. It’s an exciting, expanding and rewarding industry to work in.”

Speaking at the event, Charles Lovibond, Head of Careers, The Abbey School in Reading, said:

“This is really going to help my students. It will help them recognise they can take a skill set and use it in so many different ways.”

Maheen, a student from Eden Girls school, added:

“I think this event is really productive, inspiring and educational because it inspires lots of girls like me to join this career path. It’s definitely inspired me to think more about careers in science – there’s a wide variety of careers in science, for example engineering, it just inspires me to delve into science and the scientific field and explore more.”

The nuclear industry underpins hundreds of thousands of jobs across the UK, both directly and through the extended supply chain, and is growing rapidly. Nuclear has a wide variety of roles ranging from technical scientific and engineering roles through to logistics, project management, commercial and finance – with a range of apprentice and graduate opportunities.

There are career opportunities in the nuclear waste management sector with structured pathways to sought-after professional qualifications.

The Nuclear Skills Strategy Group was set up a few years ago to bring major employers from the industry together to look at the long-term skills needs. It’s just one of the organisations involved in developing a campaign known as Destination Nuclear to attract people to the sector. The project, which is expected to launch early next year, is being supported by industry bodies including the NDA group.

A Nuclear Skills Taskforce was recently set up to address how the UK continues to build nuclear skills across its defence and civil workforce.

The NDA has a proven track record in investing in early career development, each year investing over £45 million in apprentice and graduate development.

NWS has an apprenticeship programme, a variety of work experience opportunities and recruits graduates through the NDA group graduate programme. It also upskills current employees with university degrees & leadership programmes to build the skills base in house.

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