National Apprenticeship Week 2024

Meet the nuclear apprentices

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There are over 2,000 apprentices learning their trade in UK civil nuclear and to mark National Apprenticeship Week 2024, a selection of them from across the NIA membership offer a snapshot into what they do and why they chose nuclear.

This year’s theme – ‘Skills for Life’ – is very fitting for the nuclear industry, which prides itself on training apprentices and setting them up for life-long careers in the sector. Scroll down to learn more about nuclear apprentices.

Phoebe Collister - Nuclear Decommissioning Authority

HR Administrator and Coordinator

Phoebe joined the NDA as a Business Admin apprentice in September 2022 before moving into the HR team. She was part of the taskforce which enabled the NDA achieve Menopause Friendly Accreditation, leading on supporting work experience students at the NDA, as well being a key figure in the onboarding process for the 2023 NDA group graduates scheme. Phoebe has represented the NDA on a number of levels, including in webinars for National Graduate Week, at the Houses of Parliament, and presenting to over 350 people at the NDA staff event. In a blog written to mark NAW 2024, she talks about her apprenticeship journey, how the NDA has supported her, and what advice she has for those considering launching their career through an apprenticeship.

Read her blog here.

Shane Glover - Hinkley Point C

Technician Apprentice, Bilfinger, Swansea

“I work as a Technician Apprentice for Bilfinger, at Hinkley Point C. My role involves inspecting welds across the site using different techniques, including radiography. I’ve been in the role for 6 months and the programme can last up to 2.5 years.

“Going to university wasn’t an option for me, I don’t enjoy studying and wanted to learn on the job while earning money. I used to work in retail, and I think people were surprised when I told them I was moving into nuclear! But the opportunity to work on one of the UK’s biggest infrastructure projects was a huge draw for me – it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity.

“I know that working within the nuclear industry will set my CV apart for the rest of my life. Everything needs to fulfil strict safety standards – so future employers will know I’ve had the best training.

“My advice to anyone looking into an apprenticeship is to make sure it will provide future career progression. I want to obtain as many qualifications as possible during my apprenticeship, get a job on the project, then head over to Sizewell to continue progressing. The great thing is I could also transfer my skills into other industries in the future, such as aerospace. It’s equipping me for life!”

Evie Holdsworth - Hinkley Point C

Geospatial Surveying Apprentice, MEH Alliance, Bridgwater

“I work as a Geospatial Surveying Apprentice with the MEH Alliance, the contractor installing miles of equipment, pipes and cables at Hinkley Point C. I use specialist equipment to take measurements across the site, which enables us to produce 3D models.

“My course is two years long and for the past six months I’ve been learning from the project’s surveyors. I’m now being given more responsibility to carry out measurements by myself which feels great.

“I started my apprenticeship straight after finishing school at age 16 – unfortunately it meant that I didn’t get the 6-week summer holiday! But it was worth it – and getting an apprenticeship here also means I can continue living at home, I don’t need to move away.

“I’d encourage anyone to apply for an apprenticeship. I know it’ll bring me career progression and it has really helped to increase my confidence because I speak to so many people every day.

“I’d like to get a job on the construction site when I qualify, and when the power station becomes operational, I’d like to work on other infrastructure projects – either here in the UK or abroad.”

Alex Austin - Nuvia

Mechanical Design Degree Apprentice

“As a Mechanical Design Degree Apprentice at NUVIA, I produce detailed drawings, assembly drawings and general arrangements, for mechanical parts and equipment. I work closely with the Engineering teams and collaborate on various projects, providing Engineering solutions to problems.

“I chose an Engineering Apprenticeship because I studied at Engineering at school (UTC Warrington), which I really enjoyed. I was then introduced to the Nuclear industry at a STEM event that was hosted at Birchwood Park, and that’s what lead me to pursue an apprenticeship within nuclear – which was the start of my career path in the industry.

“After completing the four-year Mechanical Design Apprenticeship program, I then progressed onto the full degree course. After completed my degree, I hope to become a fully qualified Mechanical Design Engineer.

“In my apprenticeship I love that every day you’re learning new things, finding new ways of working and communicating with different people.

“I would definitely recommend an apprenticeship to anyone that’s considering it, as it gives you the opportunity to gain qualifications without the debt. You also get to apply the knowledge you’re learning to the job itself, gaining practical hands-on experience at the same time as the education.”

Caitlin Almond - Jacobs

Mechanical Engineering L6 Apprentice

“I live in Cumbria and there are plenty of opportunities to work within the nuclear sector here. I knew I wanted a career in engineering because it complements my interests in maths and science. I considered university, however I decided upon an apprenticeship with Jacobs as I knew there were plenty of opportunities to work both nationally and globally once I completed my studies.

“I have worked on several different projects so far, and I have enjoyed learning to use different types of software e.g. AutoCAD to create drawings of components of industrial power plants. I have also improved my communication skills as I have been involved in many stakeholder meetings.

“Once I complete my BEng(Hons) I hope to achieve my incorporated status with IMechE, and then further down the line, achieve my Chartership status – by which point I hope to have been promoted to a more senior role within Jacobs that has more responsibilities.”

Rico Durrant - Jacobs

Mechanical Design L6 Apprentice

“I studied an aeronautical course in college which I really enjoyed, so I looked for similarly challenging apprenticeship opportunities that would continue to stretch and challenge me.  The more I looked around, the more I became interested In the new types of technology relating to power and energy, and that is one of the reasons why I applied to join Jacobs.

“Now that I have had a reasonable amount of experience working on various projects, I am able to collaborate with other key stakeholders to ensure that the project outcomes are achieved. I have been using many different types of software to support the project work that I am involved in. By utilising these different types of software, I can support the project to operate more efficiently and effectively. I have had excellent pastoral support from my mentor and my manager which has really helped boost my confidence.

“Upon completion of my apprenticeship, I would like to be seen as a competent and qualified Mechanical Designer, who has a greater level of responsibility and perhaps even manage aspects of project work.”

Ryan Gray - Jacobs

CE&I L6 Apprentice

“I have close family connections who work within the nuclear sector and who were able to share all the positive opportunities and benefits of working in the industry. I was aware of Jacobs’ involvement and knew that there would be plenty of opportunities, potentially even globally, once I completed my apprenticeship.

“My apprenticeship is allowing me to complete my BEng(Hons) in Electrical Engineering. I am able to work on new projects including fusion reactors which is an exciting new form of nuclear power. I have an amazing set of supportive colleagues who continue to help me with meeting the competencies required for my apprenticeship, and they also provide feedback which helps boost my confidence.

“I am hoping to complete my degree and then move on to undertake my EPA, during which I will become an Incorporated Engineer, with aspirations of attaining my Chartership in the next few years. Once I complete my apprenticeship I hope to remain working for Jacobs and be promoted to a higher grade with additional responsibilities.”

Sean Singh-Tari - Jacobs

EC&I Design Apprentice

“I chose to apply to Jacobs because, at my high school and sixth form, many students went on to undertake apprenticeships with Jacobs and they all spoke very positively about the company. As a young individual looking for an apprenticeship, I felt very lucky to be offered a role within the nuclear industry.

“My first six months at Jacobs have taught me a lot about the nuclear industry, particularly decommissioning projects.

“As part of my current project, I have learned how to use different design software packages for different pieces of work, as well as specification and schedule work.

“I also attend Wigan and Leigh College one day a week where I am studying for a HNC and HND in Electrical Power for three years and then will progress on degree level.

From this apprenticeship, I hope to gain key skills as a designer and engineer, and to enjoy the experience as an apprentice. Once I complete my apprenticeship, I hope to be promoted within Jacobs to take on bigger projects and additional responsibilities and continue to thrive working for the company in the nuclear sector.”

Max Boardman - National Nuclear Laboratory

Digital Communications Apprentice

 “I chose the nuclear industry after studying my GCSEs at high school and discovering a strong passion for anything technological/digital, so I was looking for Digital apprenticeships on the government website and Indeed (the online jobs board).

“The apprenticeship has taught me many things. Some of the key things I have learnt are how to create a basic dashboard on Google Analytics, code a website and create static and dynamic QR codes. I first joined NNL when I had just finished my GCSEs in 2021 as a Digital Communications Apprentice, studying Digital Marketing which was for 2 years. I have now completed my Level 3 course and have started working towards my degree, with Manchester Metropolitan University!

“After I have completed my apprenticeship, I hope to have obtained a BSc Degree in Digital Marketing, enabling me to secure a permanent position at the National Nuclear Laboratory in a digital communications role.”

Adam Williams - DBD International

Apprentice Project Manager

“I am 18 years of age and work as an Apprentice Project Manager at DBD. As an apprentice, I also study at the University of Cumbria where I am taking a level 6 degree apprenticeship in Project Management. Before joining DBD, I was a sixth form student who graduated with 3 distinctions in engineering, IT and business.

“I had previously spent a week at DBD as part of my work experience requirements, I enjoyed my time immensely and had exposure to project management, it was at this point I decided I wanted to become a PM. The projects DBD were managing were unique, challenging, cutting edge and exciting.

“During my time on my apprenticeship, I plan to be able to gain the skills and qualifications needed in order to become a project manager as well as being able to bring value to the DBD team.

“My first 6 months have been amazing and have surpassed my expectations, with both DBD and the University of Cumbria! It has allowed me to meet new people, exposed me to incredible projects and most importantly, allowed me to gain new knowledge and insight into project management.”

Caitlin - Urenco

Shift Operator, Capenhurst 

“I chose an apprenticeship in engineering at Urenco as it teaches you valuable skills like problem-solving, research methods and mathematics. All of these skills are in high demand across fields in industry and I believe having these qualities makes me a valuable candidate no matter what career path I choose.

“My training as an Operator has given me an excellent foundation and understanding of all aspects of industry on which to build a successful career in the future. I am now SIAS certified after completing a 4 year apprenticeship, during which I achieved a Level 4 in HNC in engineering, an NVQ Level 3 in Operations and maintenance and a level 3 diploma in advanced engineering manufacturing. I enjoy training in new areas of the plant developing my knowledge as an operator; the ability to solve complex problems and hands on experience with production processes.

“I am ambitious and see myself continuing to work hard and progressing in my current role as an operator. Eventually, I hope I will have acquired the necessary skills to take on a senior position at Urenco and apply my skills to innovate the production at Urenco and enhance the future of the business.  “

Jemma Atkinson - National Nuclear Laboratory

Scientific Apprentice

“I’m in the third year of my scientific apprenticeship at NNL. I chose to apply for NNL because I was really interested in the nuclear industry and being involved in world leading science. I also wanted to stay in the Lake District because I love the outdoors, so it was the perfect opportunity for me.

“Throughout my apprenticeship I’ve learnt a variety of laboratory skills by being involved in different projects, and technical writing skills with writing reports.

“I’ve had a lot of opportunities outside of my apprenticeship to network and develop communication skills. I was a facilitator at the Global Forum for Nuclear Innovation 2022 in London, I supported NNL’s National Equality Standard reaccreditation, and I have been involved in outreach projects with schools and work experience students. I’ve also been selected as an ambassador for Lakes College to collect the Queens Anniversary Award that they have won from Buckingham Palace!

“After I’ve completed my apprenticeship, I hope to top up the foundation degree to a Bachelor’s degree in chemistry.”

Annabelle Edgar - Cyclife

Waste Technical Assessor Degree Apprentice

“I am currently undergoing my degree at Cyclife UK through their “Grow Your Own” Apprenticeship Scheme. My degree is in Waste Management and Decommissioning and I am completing this through the National College for Nuclear in Workington. I work under the Consignment Solution Team at our Metal Recycling Facility.

“I am currently in my third year of study, and I began my role at Cyclife UK in September 2021.

“I am thoroughly enjoying my apprenticeship and having the ability work whilst learning and developing my knowledge through my degree! I believe this allows me to develop both my skills and knowledge within the workplace and personally.”

Ethan Ross - Cyclife

Waste Management Consultant Degree Apprentice 

“I am part of Cyclife UK’s “Grow Your Own” Apprenticeship Scheme and I am currently in my first year of study. I started my apprenticeship in September 2023, and I am situated within the Environment & Sustainability branch of the Consultancy Services team. I am currently studying Decommissioning and Waste Management at The National College for Nuclear which is part of Lakes College.

“My day-to-day job roles include aiding other Waste Management Consultants on various projects, offering support during the bidding process, and case study review and maintenance.

“I benefit massively from working in a highly technical team of nuclear professionals who are always there to assist in my development of knowledge and skills. This makes working for Cyclife most enjoyable!”

Harvey Laker- Cyclife

” I joined the company in September 2023, and I am currently in my first year of study. I am part of Cyclife UK’s Project Management Office and I have been involved in day-to-day project management activities such as tracking the company’s resource utilisation and working closely alongside other departments within Cyclife UK.

“I joined Cyclife after completing my A-Levels and I have had a huge amount of support from my line manager and colleagues to make me feel welcome. I am really enjoying my apprenticeship as I can use my learning from my degree in my daily work to further my understanding and develop and improve my skills. I would recommend an apprenticeship at Cyclife UK to anyone who is keen to start their career with lots of on-the-job experience in their field of study.”