A CENTRE for training nuclear experts in Gloucester is leading the way in providing the skilled workforce to run the next generation power stations say ministers.
The role of the Nuclear Power Academy at Barnwood was highlighted as Energy Secretary Ed Davey hailed the deal by Japanese engineering giant Hitachi to build two reactors, including one in Gloucestershire, as a "huge vote of confidence in the UK's energy policy".
The £700 million move is expected to create thousands of jobs for construction workers, engineers and other skilled employees, and spark a multibillion-pound investment in the nuclear industry.
Hitachi is buying Gloucester-based Horizon Nuclear Power, which has the rights to build plants at Oldbury and Wylfa in North Wales, from its German owners E.ON and RWE npower.
The new facilities are expected to generate power to up to 14 million homes over 60 years.
Speaking at the Commons Energy and Climate Change questions, Tory MP for Stroud Neil Carmichael highlighted the need to develop skills and the labour market to support the sector.
Responding, Energy minister John Hayes said: "When I was the Minister responsible for skills, I convened a meeting that was attended by DECC and Department for Business, Innovation and Skills officials to ensure that we had a clear expression of demand from the industry, and the Government met that demand by talking to skills suppliers to ensure that we attracted new people to the industry and built the skills necessary.
"We are on the case, and the nuclear skills academy is leading that process. I can assure him that nuclear presents a chance for new jobs and skills as well as being important for our energy security."
Meanwhile, the Secretary for State told MPs it was "excellent news that Hitachi has acquired Horizon Nuclear Power".
Mr Davey said: This is not just good news for energy policy and a huge vote of confidence in the UK's energy policy, but it is also good news for British industry.
"Already Hitachi have signed memorandums of understanding with Rolls Royce and Babcock and the supply chain potential is huge with 6,000 jobs during construction at both Wylfa and Oldbury and 1,000 permanent jobs after construction.
"I announced when the Hitachi decision was announced that we've set up a Nuclear Industry Council for Government to work with the industry to maximise the potential for the supply chain in this country."