Employer Case Study: Magnox
Magnox holds the contracts and licences to defuel and decommission five of the UK's historic Magnox nuclear reactor sites on behalf of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA). The five sites are in different stages of decommissioning and it is likely to be many years before the sites are totally cleared.
In 2006 Magnox found themselves with a fleet of plants scheduled for shutdown and requiring dismantling. Although their workforces were highly skilled nuclear plant operators, they needed to re-skill in front-line decontamination and dismantling skills. Magnox approached Bridgwater College for help.
"We wanted our training programmes to link with national standards and deliver real qualifications. We recognised that we could achieve this most effectively working in collaboration with a partner in the educational sector, so we turned to Bridgwater College", commented Brendan Daly, Training Manager of Magnox.
The Science and Maths Section of Bridgwater College spent considerable time assessing the needs of the company and its operational procedures and culture. Site visits assisted this process. The College staff worked with staff from Magnox to prepare the training programmes required. The timing, content, delivery mode and the assessment process were all enthusiastically debated. A programme was developed in partnership with the employer which was designed to allow Magnox employees to train in the skills of decommisioning, whilst simultaneously being able to assess and validate this training, to award the candidates the NVQ Level 2 in Nuclear Decommissioning.
The College recruited Trainer/Assessors with substantial and recent experience of the nuclear industry. These new recruits were trained in modern teaching and learning techniques and qualified as A1 Assessors before they started delivering the programmes.
"Talks produced an enthusiastic response and a framework for an exciting way forward. The College's flexible approach to what we wanted has given me confidence for the future and it was their staff's input into our needs that has resulted in true partnership working. I was particularly impressed by the College's commitment to what we are trying to achieve". - Ken Powers (then Managing Director Reactor Sites South).
The first NVQ in Nuclear Decommissioning ran very successfully with 19 employees drawn from three of Magnox's reactor sites. Regular review meetings were held which included middle and senior managers from both the company and the College.
Subsequent cohorts received a more streamlined programme with reduced, intensive delivery of knowledge and understanding. The assessment included increased digital imaging of competence which resulted in slimmer portfolios of evidence and more rapid completion.
Following the success of the Nuclear Decommissioning NVQs, Magnox requested new NVQ programmes in Radiation Protection. Once again, the College's science staff collaborated with staff from Magnox to produce a streamlined and effective programme to meet the company's needs.
Within three years of the first contact between the company and the College, over 100 candidates had achieved their NVQs in either Nuclear Decommissioning or Radiation Protection.
"Thanks for all the effort you have gone to in ensuring our people receive the necessary ongoing support for their NVQs. I am continuously reassured by your positive interventions when I have the need to challenge you over any issues or concerns I have experienced; this proves to me that the business relationship between our company and Bridgwater College is an excellent example to other potential customers you may identify." - John Cuff, Training Manager Hinkley Point A Site.