Site of Berkeley nuclear power station begins new chapter

Author
Ian Mean
Director of Business West Gloucestershire | Business West
5th October 2017

Fifty years ago, major advances in nuclear power technology were coming out of the Berkeley Laboratories on the banks of the River Severn.

Berkeley has, of course, been decommissioned as a nuclear power station. 

But now it is literally rising from the ashes as a new type of learning centre for young people keen to pursue the type of technologies pioneered there all those years ago at the Berkeley Nuclear Laboratories.

It is here at South Gloucestershire and Stroud’s new £15million Berkeley Green Campus on the site of the old power station they are starting to develop the engineers of the future.

These are young people who have decided to take the major step of leaving their secondary schools and opting to join Berkeley to be the engineering and cyber trailblazers of the future.

And a good proportion of these young people learning to be engineers are girls - nearly 40 of them in fact.

Business West celebrated the opening of the campus with a networking breakfast attended by the Lord Lieutenant, Dame Janet Trotter and local business people.

“Berkeley is a very different college”, said Kevin Hamblin, chief executive of South Gloucestershire and Stroud College.

”It is designed to meet the career demands of the young people of today.

“We simply have to get young people interested in studying STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects as a career pathway.”

Kevin is not a teacher by profession - his degree was in business. But the enormous will to develop this new college owes a lot to his drive and his team’s enthusiasm.

Pete Carr, lead commissioner for employment & skills  for the county council and the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) said that the skills gap was so serious that for every new job there was a need to replace nine people leaving the workforce.

“A lot of the traditional skills here are in danger of being lost to the county”, he told our breakfast meeting.

“Hats off to Kevin and the team who have been very entrepreneurial in planning for the future.”

Twenty-seven year old Sarah Cannon, a design/development engineer from Renishaw spoke passionately about her career journey so far.

“It is really important that girls aren’t put off from doing engineering and STEM subjects”, she said. 

"Talking to parents at schools I have found that some say they don’t want their girl going into engineering - that it is dirty, full of men and dangerous. Nothing could be further from the truth. I love what I do - I always have.”

Without doubt, Berkeley is destined to be a game changer for our young people.

Images from the breakfast event can be viewed here.

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