Westinghouse Honours UK Apprenticeship and Academic Achievers

SPRINGFIELDS, October 16, 2015Westinghouse Electric Company Springfields held its annual Skills Awards Day to recognise young engineers and employees who have either earned their apprenticeship or achieved academic success in higher education qualifications during the past year. The event took place at the Springfields nuclear fuel manufacturing site near Preston.

The apprentice prizes were presented by Brian Nixon, manager of Oxide Operations at Springfields. “I began my career at Springfields as an instrument mechanic apprentice,” Nixon said. “Engineering underpins many of the activities carried out on site, from safe operations to process design, and is vital to the success of Springfields. On a wider scale, Westinghouse is expanding its engineering services in the UK and, together with opportunities in its new build programme at Moorside in Cumbria, offers an exciting future for innovative, young engineers in the nuclear energy industry.”

A total of 13 different awards were presented and the top award, the coveted Westinghouse Guild Trophy for the Apprentice of the Year, went to 19-year old Connor Bligh, who lives in Blackpool and is a former pupil of Highfield Humanities College and Blackpool & Fylde College.

The Springfields Engineering Apprentice Training programme has operated for 65 years. Almost 1800 youngsters have passed through the programme since the first intake of just seven trainees in 1950. Today, 62 apprentices are currently in the programme, of whom 38 are being trained for positions with companies outside of Westinghouse.

For the first time in the Springfields’ programme’s history, this year’s intake of new apprentices also included four Higher Apprenticeships.

A Higher Apprenticeship is a nationally accredited programme designed to meet employers’ needs at higher skill levels and includes qualifications at a level equivalent to higher education. Individuals gain a recognised professional qualification equivalent to first-year university level technical knowledge, professional skills and business competencies.

Ian Curran, Springfields chief engineer and chairman of the Springfields Apprentice Board, said, “The quality of the Springfields Apprenticeship Programme is widely acknowledged by a number of national training and engineering organisations and the Skills Awards Day is one of the top events in the Springfields calendar.

“One of our biggest challenges is ensuring that we have the skills available to meet future business demands. Our apprentice training programme will be pivotal in ensuring that the company meets this challenge. Some 25 per cent of our current employees began their careers as apprentices, and many of them are now in supervisory or managerial positions, including our managing director.”

The quality of the Springfields’ apprentice training programme was acknowledged earlier this year when Westinghouse was invited to join a government-backed Nuclear Apprenticeship Trailblazer Group to help train the next generation of nuclear engineers under a Degree Apprenticeship programme.

The Trailblazer Group comprises a number of UK nuclear companies who will develop the Degree Apprenticeship to enable graduates to undertake a broad range of engineering training and technical specialist roles in the nuclear sector. This will help to ensure that the industry continues to employ highly skilled and professionally qualified personnel and to close anticipated capability gaps for the industry in the UK.

The Trailblazer Group is anticipated to be operational by September 2016.

Westinghouse Electric Company, a group company of Toshiba Corporation (TKY:6502), is the world's pioneering nuclear energy company and is a leading supplier of nuclear plant products and technologies to utilities throughout the world. Westinghouse supplied the world's first commercial pressurized water reactor in 1957 in Shippingport, Pa., U.S. Today, Westinghouse technology is the basis for approximately one-half of the world's operating nuclear plants, including more than 50 percent of those in Europe.

Westinghouse is a leading supplier of nuclear fuel for pressurized water reactors (PWRs), including VVER reactors; boiling water reactors (BWRs); and Advanced Gas Reactors (AGRs) worldwide, with manufacturing locations around the world. Westinghouse also manufactures and delivers fuel-handling equipment and cranes, and large nuclear components.