From education to employment

Engaging the workforce of the future

Megan Thomas

As the Education & Outreach Lead at Hinkley Point C, it is my role to ensure we are inspiring the next generation into engineering, construction and a much wider array of career routes available on the project.  

Hinkley Point C is the first new nuclear power station to be built in the UK in over 20 years. The power station will provide secure, low-carbon electricity for around 6 million homes across the UK – at the same time creating thousands of jobs, skills development opportunities and tangible, long-lasting benefits to the UK’s industrial capability.  

A project of Hinkley Point C’s scale requires a varied workforce with many different skill sets, with many adapting and changing throughout the project. Construction of Hinkley Point C is well underway, but the opportunities available continue to grow to the point where there really is something for everyone – from entry-level traineeships to those new to the industry to master’s level apprenticeships and T-level placements.  

Currently, around 8,000 people work across the Hinkley Point C Project; from our bus service to our catering teams, designers and digital engineers to those out on site – each member of Team HPC brings a unique set of skills and experiences. Hinkley Point C is about the people behind it, and we would not be able to do it without them! 

Inspiring the younger generation… 

At Hinkley Point C we run two education programmes that aim to engage the younger generation. ‘Inspire’ is for those aged below 16, which incorporates a range of teaching resources, video blogs and workshops. The ‘Young HPC’ programme is our free skills and development programme to help fast-track young people onto the project; with resources such as a Digital Toolbox, virtual work experience and exclusive access to events with employers throughout the project. Engaging those below 16 requires a different approach to engaging those over 16 and that is why we have adapted the resources and tools available to meet the needs of those using them.  

The most important aspect for me is to be linked in with all the local Schools, Colleges and Universities that surround the project. We know from the new Skills for Jobs White Paper how vital it is that educational settings are linking up with business. Whilst the White Paper sets out a series of reforms aimed at transforming post-16 education and training, boosting skills and getting more people into work businesses and employers need to consider how they can better support their communities and local people.  

Face-to-face events are finally making a comeback post-pandemic, and with digital overload being a concern for many educational settings. it has been fantastic to offer support to settings in terms of physical workshops, presentations and assemblies. Our diaries are already filling up with events this academic year, where we can discuss the importance of the project, the opportunities available and what we expect from a potential future employee of the project.  

For many young people, the pandemic has hindered their chances to experience the world of work so, we want to bring a piece of our exciting project to the classroom. Before the pandemic we invested in a mobile resource unit, a place that acts as a space for more private conversations with people. We use this unit at larger events alongside an array of supporting publications and hand-outs that students can take home for their family and friends.  

Another tool we invested in throughout the pandemic was the EDF Energy HPC recruitment tool which enables people to discover all the different job families on the project. The user of the tool will take a short questionnaire on their career desires – their provided answers then generate potentially suitable jobs for them within the Hinkley Point C project. This tool can stimulate ideas for career paths for the user and potentially suggest career paths that the user may not have considered previously. 

Alongside the Education & Outreach Team, many volunteers from across the project join the workshops, presentations, and events with students to showcase a wide range of jobs across the project. We tailor who will join us at the events, to match the audience, to ensure we are able to answer as many students’ questions in depth as possible; sustainability specialists, nuclear engineers and construction leads make up the array of those who join us at events. 

Creating these strong relationships within educational settings such as Colleges are vital to support the great work the settings are already doing to promote clear career pathways once the student’s study has finished; but also, to introduce the students to their chosen industry, and what we expect from them as an employer. 

Upskilling and apprenticeships… 

We are always developing our teams to ensure we have the skills needed to deliver this fantastic project. We have created a wide range of pathways and invested in world-class facilities at Hinkley Point C to ensure we make those commitments a reality. 

Three Centres of Excellence have been developed so far as part of £24 million investment into education, skills and employment. A welding centre, an electrical centre, and a mechanical centre have been built, housing industry-leading facilities that supports not only people looking to enter the project workforce and wider industry, but those already working on the project looking to develop further.  

Apprentices are a key part of our workforce at HPC and will continue to be so as the project develops. Over 950 apprentices have been trained on the project since construction began in 2016 and we have high hopes we will reach our 1,000th apprentice milestone this year! As we move forward, we understand that Green Apprenticeshipswill give the UK’s future workforce the skills needed to help to slow down the effects of climate change – something that is essential to complete the Hinkley Point C project. We know from speaking with young people that Net Zero and climate change is on their agenda and is something that they are considering when deciding their future career paths. This suggests that we need to incorporate this into our workshops and careers presentations; highlighting how HPC will make a positive impact to the UK, and the benefits it brings with it.  

At Hinkley Point C we encourage apprenticeships throughout all occupations, with 74 different apprenticeships currently being delivered on the project, every apprentice is either directly or indirectly contributing to the delivery of the new Nuclear Power Station. From Hospitality and Chef apprentices feeding the workforce, Steel fixers tying the steel cages for the infrastructure, Digital Engineers creating 3D Models to assist construction, right through to our Nuclear Engineering Degree Apprentices who will help to maintain and evolve the future of Nuclear power.  

It’s a really exciting time at the Hinkley Point C project; with the project changing and taking shape further every day. We cannot wait to get talking to the young generation about the range of opportunities available here, taking them from education to employment!

By Megan Thomas, Education & Outreach Lead at Hinkley Point C

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