New training hub set to revolutionise nuclear skills development

A state-of-the-art skills centre for the UK nuclear industry has been officially opened at Sellafield

The new state-of-the-art facility with a member of the UK ARC programme

The Glove Box Training Facility upskills operators in one of nuclear’s most important disciplines.

Glove boxes are crucial to operations on nuclear sites. They allow operators to handle hazardous material in a safe and controlled environment.

It’s demanding work which requires high levels of skill and dexterity.

And now learners from across the country will get to hone their craft in a purpose-built facility.

Its aim is to get trainees work-ready quicker and with a broader skill set.

It will reduce the amount of training done within plants and provide a standardised approach across the sector.

That will lead to improved safety and quality, helping the UK to deliver its critical nuclear missions.

The facility has been delivered by the UK Alpha Resilience & Capability (ARC) programme.

Minister for Nuclear and Networks Andrew Bowie said:

"Nuclear skills training is key for the government to hit its target to provide up to a quarter of the UK’s electricity from homegrown nuclear energy by 2050, whilst supporting jobs across the country.

"The safe handling of nuclear waste is vital to deliver our nuclear ambitions, and this new glove box facility at Sellafield will help equip a new generation of nuclear operators."

Jacq Longrigg, group head of leadership, skills, and talent for the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), said:

"This facility will deliver a wide range of benefits across the sector, in terms of consistency, safety and efficiency.

"With 17,000 people working across the NDA group, ours is one of the largest and most experienced nuclear workforces in the world.

"Investing in skills and ensuring that we have the right people with the right expertise to deliver our mission today, and for decades to come, is a priority as well as a legal obligation. 

"We know that we can’t do this alone and this is a great example of how we are working in collaboration across the NDA group, with government and the sector to make a real difference and advance the wider UK nuclear industry."

Kierra Desay, UK ARC programme manager, said:

"As well as delivering a number of improvements for the industry, the facility will provide a better experience for trainees and an improved service to our customers.

"The potential benefits are huge and will underpin ARC’s vision to sustain and enhance the UK’s Alpha capability."

Senior leaders from across the UK nuclear sector attended a launch event to mark the opening of the facility.

They got to test their own skills in a special ‘glove box Olympics’ as well as hearing how the facility will revolutionise skills development for the industry.

Historically, glove box training was often provided within nuclear facilities themselves.

That meant training tended to be bespoke and opportunities for standardisation were lost.

The new facility will provide a more standardised approach, offering detailed training in glove boxes configured to recreate any scenario imaginable.

Lighting and temperature can also be controlled to replicate the conditions trainees will face in the workplace.

Training course content has been developed via the ARC programme and underpinned by a series of pilot training courses.

The UK ARC programme is a partnership between government, nuclear operating companies, and the wider nuclear industry.

It works to ensure the UK has the skills it needs to complete current and future missions related to special nuclear materials.

Partners include:

  • Department for Energy and Net Zero
  • Nuclear Decommissioning Authority
  • Office for Nuclear Regulation
  • Sellafield Ltd
  • Dounreay Sites Restoration Ltd
  • Atomic Weapons Establishment
  • National Nuclear Laboratory
  • Nuclear Skills Strategy Group

Sellafield Ltd
Nuclear Decommissioning Authority
Department for Energy Security and Net Zero
National Nuclear Laboratory
Office for Nuclear Regulation
Andrew Bowie MP