25,000 jobs to be created by Sizewell C power plant

EDUCATION and business chiefs were this week urged to start preparing now for the prospect of a new nuclear power station at Sizewell – or risk missing out on a golden opportunity to boost the local economy.

If EDF Energy is given the go-ahead to build two reactors at Sizewell C, it could generate 25,000 jobs over the whole lifetime of the project.

During the seven or eight-year construction phase, bosses are expecting a maximum of 5,600 workers to be on site at any one time, with 900 permanent jobs created once the power station is complete.

It is estimated the project will be worth �100m a year to the local economy while it is being built and �40m a year thereafter.

Although the project is in its early stages, EDF Energy says it wants local people to form a key part of the workforce and that it will work with education leaders and employers to raise awareness of potential opportunities.

This includes training and apprenticeships for young people, and liaising closely with schools and colleges. The company will also link up with Suffolk Chamber of Commerce to ensure local businesses have a good opportunity to be involved in the new nuclear supply chain.

At a conference on Wednesday at the Holiday Inn in Ipswich, EDF bosses warned that schools, colleges and businesses had to start preparing now to ensure the future workforce have the skills available to take advantage.

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Angela Piearce, head of the Sizewell C project, said: 'There are significant opportunities but we need to make sure the training programmes are in place so we have a properly skilled and equipped workforce at the point that we need them.

'The power station will be operational for 60 years, so there is a real commitment for the future.'

Jennie Chapman, head of organisation capability at EDF Energy, who is responsible for education, skills and training, said they hoped that a number of jobs would be filled by apprentices.

'It's important to recognise that it's not just the stereotypical roles in terms of construction, there is a diverse workforce needed,' she said.

'It includes everything from mechanical and electrical engineering through to business administration, support staff, security guards and canteen workers.

'On top of that there will be extra work created within the community in terms of supporting the volume of people who could potentially come to the area.

'Skills is a big agenda and I know people are concerned about missing out but we have a long time to make sure we maximise the skills locally.

'Some of the potential employees are still at primary school.

'The first focus is to work with schools and education providers to raise aspirations and highlight the opportunities available.

'The key thing is to have training in place so we are not trying to rush it in a tight timescale.

'We need the right people in the right place at the right time.'

Bosses at EDF Energy have also said there will be opportunities for people to retrain in other roles throughout the lifetime of the project so that they can keep involved, while they will also be working closely with Jobcentre Plus to advertise jobs locally.

If given the go-ahead, Sizewell C is likely to take seven to eight years to build and could be fully operational by 2025.

It is forecast to supply more than 6pc of the nation's electricity, which is said to be enough for five million homes.

? Any businesses that want to be involved in the Sizewell C project can register an interest at www.sizewellsupplychain.co.uk

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