Construction firms can cash in on £2bn nuclear boost

CONSTRUCTION firms in the North-East could miss out on a £2bn boost from a new nuclear plant in the region if they don’t invest in skills training, it was claimed.

Industry body CITB-ConstructionSkills (CITB) said that building a new plant in Hartlepool could play a significant role in tripling present levels of construction work available to firms in the region, compared to their present levels.

In June the Government confirmed eight sites, including Hartlepool, that it deemed suitable for new power stations by 2025.

If and when work on the new plants will start is still to be debated in Parliament.

CITB, a not-for-profit organisation funded by firms in the construction sector, has carried out research, called Nuclear New Build Employment Scenarios, on the economic impact to the building industry in each of the eight areas.

It anticipates that around 2,700 extra construction jobs will be created in the North-East during the building of a new plant at Hartlepool.

But the analysis found the recent decline in construction employment levels in the areas where the new nuclear builds are planned would mean existing workers will have to be reskilled and upskilled.

CITB warned that firms could miss out if they werent up to speed on the rigorous safety standards demanded by the nuclear industry.

Steve Housden, sector strategy manager for CITB in the North-East, said: The new nuclear build project in Hartlepool could breathe new life into the local construction industry but, to benefit and meet the demands of the project, firms need to ensure they have the right skills.

Safety considerations are far more prominent and complex than in other industries and need to be fully understood.

We need to appreciate the current strengths and weaknesses of the skills base and promote effective training planning with employers and trade unions, ensuring that the North-East supply chain is ready to play its part in the nuclear renaissance.

CITB subsiduary the National Skills Academy for Construction yesterday signed an agreement with the sector funded National Skills Academy for Nuclear to work together to promote skills development.

CITB chief executive Mark Farrar added: “Nuclear represents a big cultural shift in terms of behaviours needed on site. Safety considerations are far more prominent and complex than in other industries and need to be fully understood.

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