A partnership between Lancaster University and Heysham 2 nuclear power plant, which is operated by EDF Energy, is helping to recruit talented graduates into the energy sector.
The Lancaster University and EDF Energy Placement Scheme provides science and technology students with a one-year paid internship in a variety of disciplines at the power station including Engineering, Chemistry, Continuous Improvement and Environmental Safety.
Students recruited onto the scheme, which has been running for two years, include Emily Richards who graduated from Lancaster in 2015 with a degree in Environmental Science.
After working in the radiological protection team on-site at Heysham, Emily applied for a graduate position with the company, which led to her accepting a position as Health Physics Graduate. This role will enable her to develop and learn alongside experts in the field, while visiting EDF sites nationally.
Emily said: “I am currently undertaking technical training at EDF Energy’s engineering headquarters in Barnwood, Gloucester. I am still based at Heysham 2 but will have the opportunity to work at other stations within various roles, as well as working for nuclear new build in Bristol before coming back to Heysham 2 as a permanent member of staff within their Health Physics Department.
“I have loved working at Heysham 2, everyone is really friendly. I would say being a team player is important for this role, and not being afraid to get stuck in wherever necessary. My career aspirations are to become an Accredited Health Physicist on completion of technical training,” she added.
The scheme has just recruited another cohort of Lancaster students to work at Heysham 2. One recruit is Martin Paley, originally from Bath, who is studying for a degree in Earth and Environmental Science.
Martin said: “The energy industry has always appealed to me because there is potential to cross disciplines between engineering and environment, especially with the emergence of renewables and climate targets.
“I’m really enjoying the practical working experience, which is exactly what I came here to do. I’ve thrown myself head first into a project, which has grown arms and legs as it’s unfurled and incorporated many different elements into it. It is a perfect learning experience.”
Ian Haines, Fuel Route Manager for Heysham 2, recognises the commercial benefits of working closely with Lancaster University and offering opportunities to graduates.
He said: “Heysham 2 has at least another 14 years to run and remains an important site for future development by EDF Energy.
“An increasing number of our current employees are approaching retirement and with nuclear new build now a reality it’s vital that the specialist knowledge to safely operate and maintain a nuclear power plant is retained.
“With Lancaster University on our doorstep it made complete sense to forge stronger links. This is our third year of work with the university and the number of connections from industrial placements, to work with post-graduate research students is increasing each year.
“This is now beginning to feed through to high quality employees for Heysham 2.”
Chris Lambert, Programme Manager for the Business Partnerships team within Lancaster University’s Faculty of Science and Technology, said: “We are delighted to be working with one of the most prominent employers in the area and supporting the energy sector in providing work-ready graduates.
“This scheme provides great opportunities for our students to gain valuable experience working with the UK’s largest producer of low-carbon energy. Relationships between universities and the private sector are vital in supporting future skills demand for specialist sectors. We look forward to working closer in the future with Heysham 2 and EDF Energy.”