Thursday, November 10, 2011

News: Rolls-Royce apprentices at the cutting edge


Four Rolls-Royce apprentices are learning at the cutting edge of the nuclear manufacturing industry with a placement at the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (Nuclear AMRC) in Rotherham.

Based on the Advanced Manufacturing Park, The £25m Nuclear AMRC is a joint initiative between the University of Sheffield, The University of Manchester, and a consortium of industry partners. It provides a focal point for the bulk of the UK civil nuclear manufacturing industry supply chain.

Ben Hudson, Conor Radford, James Smith, and Ben Sowerby, are in the third year of their apprenticeships. As part of Rolls-Royce's partnership with the Nuclear AMRC, they are spending 18 months working on new welding technologies in the centre's workshop.

Ben Sowerby said: "What we're doing is out of the norm for Rolls-Royce apprentices. We're privileged to be doing what we're doing, because when we come out we'll have a much wider skills set than a normal apprentice."

Rolls-Royce recently received outline planning approval for a 21,000 sq m "Project PoWeR" facility on the AMP for the manufacturing and assembling of power vessels for the next generation of nuclear power stations in the UK. Following their placement, the four are likely to join the lead batch of part makers at the new facility.

The apprentices spend four days a week on practical training, and one day on theory, working closely with Dr Steve Jones, company engineering specialist for fusion welding with Rolls-Royce Civil Nuclear.

Conor Radford said: "Not a lot of apprentices get the opportunity to work with someone that high up. Civil nuclear is a new business for Rolls-Royce, so it's exciting to be at the forefront of what's going on. It's nice to be part of the first wave."

Annette Valentine, training and skills manager for the Nuclear AMRC, added: "Its an exciting time for apprentices, with innovation and advanced technology making their training more challenging and yet more attractive.

"Apprenticeships offer the opportunity to start building a career, and continue through to higher degrees and professional learning."

A £20.5m training centre for advanced manufacturing is set to be built close to the site after the University of Sheffield was awarded £9.2m by the government last month. Over 200 apprentices will enter the Advanced Manufacturing Institute each year, where they will receive nine to 12 months of intensive skills training.

Details of the Nuclear AMRC's own apprenticeship programme will be announced shortly.

Nuclear AMRC website

Images: Nuclear AMRC


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