New research carried out over five years has shown the positive impact of Hinkley Point C for young people in Somerset.
The Inspire Education programme, that supports the construction of the UK’s first new nuclear power station for a generation, delivers free activities, workshops, assemblies and events whilst supporting careers advice for young people across the County.
The team behind it have visited almost 500 schools and colleges in the area, engaging with over 167,000 students since it began.
The work by social analysts Sky Blue Research found that more than 40% of the apprentices at Hinkley Point C who participated in the programme said Inspire had changed their career path for the better.
Half of the young people taking part in Inspire said they wanted to try harder in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) subjects.
Interest in STEM careers such as engineering has risen by over 10% as a direct result of Inspire, helping to close nationally significant skills gaps.
Inspire has helped increase social mobility for those from less advantaged backgrounds. Hinkley Point C apprentices are more than twice as likely as the national average to have had free school meals as an example.
More than half of those given careers advice said they found it easier to find their way into the world of work.
The Inspire programme is part of a wider pipeline of opportunity which also includes Young HPC, which provides careers advice and support to 16-21 year-olds, is currently helping 1,000 people. The HPC Job Service has helped to ensure that almost half of the site’s workforce is local, and has helped more than 800 start new careers at, or connected to Hinkley Point C.
Working with partners at Somerset County Council, regional training providers and the charity Discovery, a 10-week training programme has enabled those with special educational needs access long term, sustainable careers through Hinkley Point C.
Tom Thayer, who leads the development of the Inspire programme, told Burnham-On-Sea.com: “Our programme is helping to address a national skills shortage and is preparing young people for the wealth of opportunities at Hinkley Point C and beyond.”
Oliver Tolchard, 17, has benefitted from the range of Inspire activities after it helped him get in touch with Young HPC, and get an apprenticeship. “After I finished school last year, I joined Young HPC and from there headed to an event held at the Construction Skills and Innovation Centre in Cannington” explains Oliver. “It was really hands-on and I tried everything from steel fixing to carpentry and lifting work with a digger. I couldn’t believe how many options there were.”
“The team then helped me through my apprenticeship applications and I managed to get offers for all of them. In the end, I decided to start my apprenticeship with Cavendish and I’m almost finished my first phase of training as a pipe fitter – I am looking forward to starting work, building the new power station.”
Megan Handley is another local youngster benefitting from both the Inspire and the Young HPC Programmes. After leaving Bridgwater Academy, Megan attended a Young HPC event and is now well on her way to completing an apprenticeship in project controls. It’s a role that will help build a career that could be transferable all over the world and across different industries.
Megan says: “It’s been fantastic to have the support of Inspire and Young HPC over the last few years. They have given me the knowledge I needed to find my way into the industry. My apprenticeship means I can study and learn and meet people with the same outlook as I have, something you wouldn’t always get at college.”
Joanna Whitehead, Young Person’s Support Service Manager at Somerset County Council, told Burnham-On-Sea.com: “There are many benefits to the Inspire programme for young people here in Somerset. It has been a well-sustained and well-resourced programme, where investment is truly for the long-term. The term ‘once in a lifetime opportunity’ is used a lot, but in the case of Inspire, it’s quite genuine!”
And Claudia Harris, CEO at The Careers & Enterprise Company, adds: “We are delighted to have Hinkley Point C committing to helping schools and colleges in the South West. All young people deserve great careers education, to inspire them, support their aspirations and prepare them for the fast-changing world of work.”
“Employers need to be at heart of that, so young people can learn first-hand about the careers and industries that are open to them. We are very grateful to all the employers for their ongoing support and commitment to helping the young people in the area prepare for their future careers.”
The full report and technical appendices are available from Sky Blue Research here.