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Energy Minister Launches Career Transition Plan For Dounreay Workforce

17th September 2007

Photograph of Energy Minister Launches Career Transition Plan For Dounreay Workforce

Shutting down and cleaning up the fast reactor experiment at Dounreay forms a large part of the economy in the north Highlands. It is worth an estimated 80 million a year to Caithness and north Sutherland and accounts for one in every five jobs locally.

But shutting down the site means that almost all of these 2000 or so jobs will have disappeared by the time the clean-up is finished in 2032. The workforce is expected to reduce by a quarter within a few years and most jobs are expected to have gone in little more than a decade from now.

A new programme launched this week aims to help workers decide what they want to do when their existing skills are no longer required and give them the resources they need to do it. Plan-It is a voluntary initiative based on a pioneering self-help scheme developed by Liverpool University and funded by local development agency HIE Caithness and Sutherland.

Trade unions have backed the scheme and its learning reps are playing a key role in the delivery. Through a series of thought-provoking sessions, Plan-It aims to get workers thinking about where they want to be in 3-5 years' time and to begin planning for that now.

They will be helped to set personal goals, such as retraining for a different job, self-employment or retirement, with financial support and practical advice available to make it happen. The first 64 places on the initiative have been snapped up and there is now a waiting list for the next batch of sessions,

Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks met some of the first group when he visited Dounreay today (Friday, Sep 14) before attending a conference in Thurso about economic regeneration. "We all want to see this site decommissioned in a way that takes account of the social and economic consequences of closure," he said. "That is why I warmly welcome this initiative by UKAEA, on behalf of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, to help workers plan now for the day when their current job comes to an end.

"The workforce at Dounreay is uniquely skilled in a wide range of disciplines that can transfer easily to other parts of the economy, such as renewables and oil and gas. This new initiative is an important contribution to regenerating the economy of the area and ensuring that the lasting legacy of Dounreay is one of skills and enterprise that can flourish beyond its closure."

Dounreay director Simon Middlemas said: "We have a duty to close down this site in a way that gives our workforce and local community hope and optimism about their prospects beyond decommissioning. We can do this by working in partnership with the trade unions, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and others, and I am delighted by the response so far from the workforce to this new initiative."

About half the 2000-strong workforce is employed by the UKAEA. Another 300 or so are permanent staff employed by sub-contractors, with the remainder made up of itinerant sub-contractors.

Plan-It is available initially to UKAEA staff, with the first 100 expected to have personal development plans in place by the end of December, followed by an average of 200 a year. UKAEA is working with its sub-contractors and HIE to help the supply chain plan for its future beyond Dounreay.


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