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Last Updated: Tuesday, 31 October 2006, 14:40 GMT
Bid for nuclear training academy
UK nuclear power plant worker
The nuclear industry wanted to attract new recruits
The nuclear industry has put in a bid for a share of 90m of government money to set up its own training academy.

The announcement comes as the first three English skills academies - in financial services, construction and manufacturing - begin their work.

The government wants to launch 12 such academies by 2008 - one for each major economy sector - to train tens of thousands of young people and adults.

Chemical, hospitality and creative and cultural sectors also submitted bids.

The aim of the National Skills Academies is to help improve productivity and tackle skills shortages.

Each programme will be tailored to the needs of its sector - some will have centres across England, while others may be web-based or operate from mobile units.

Raising skills is essential to wealth creation and creating a society of opportunity for all
Alan Johnson
Education secretary

The industry funds half the programme, with the government contributing about 35% and the rest coming from other sources.

Employers influence the programme's curriculum, set standards and can be involved in its management and shaping strategy.

The four sectors to have submitted the latest bids will now work with the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) to draw up detailed business plans.

Jaine Clarke, director of skills for employers with the LSC, said the nuclear industry wanted to draw new recruits to the sector and make sure its ageing workforce had the right skills.

In July, the government gave its backing to a new wave of UK nuclear power stations.

Ms Clarke said: "The bid is at a very early stage but there is a gap in terms of supplying training provision, as the industry and workforce has changed."

'Turning point'

Prime Minister Tony Blair said the academies marked a turning point in skills training and would ensure Britain remained competitive.

Education and Skills Secretary Alan Johnson said: "Raising skills is essential to wealth creation and creating a society of opportunity for all."

The first academies had been due to start this September.

So far, just financial services and construction programmes are under way.

Another in manufacturing is expected to start next month and a fourth for the food and drink sector is expected to be approved shortly.

Financial services will run its training programme from four bases in London, Norwich, Leeds and Manchester.

Learners in construction are likely to receive on-site training in mobile units and manufacturing will have two regional hubs in the North East and the West Midlands and will work with local colleges.

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