UK government outlines re-training options for fossil power engineers

The UK’s Department for Business, Innovation & Skills says its Trailblazer initiative is the key to re-training for coal and gas-fired power plant engineers looking to adapt when conventional power is phased out.

Responding to a query on the subject from Power Engineering International last week, the BIS belatedly referred to its Trailblazer apprenticeship initiative, after having initially admitted that there was ‘nothing specific for power plant engineers and staff.’
Hard hat and map
This initiative brings together groups of employers in a sector to design and deliver new, high quality apprenticeships that equip people with the skills they need to progress in their career. These apprenticeships can support new entrants to the labour market or people looking to retrain.

“We have a number of Trailblazers that can help staff at fossil fuel based power plants develop the skills they need now and in the future,” an advisor at the BIS told Power Engineering International.

Course include: à‚ 

Power Engineer (Degree level) ” Standard in development

Electrical Power Protection and Plant Commissioning Engineer ” Level 4 ” Standard published and Assessment Plan in development

Nuclear technician ” Level 5 ” Standard in development

Nuclear Engineer and Scientist ” Standard and Assessment Plan approved (fully approved for delivery)


“Engineering skills can be transferred to other sectors as well. There are other higher level apprenticeships available in the aero, advanced manufacturing and auto sectors that are approved for delivery or in development including:


Aerospace engineer degree apprenticeships ” Standard approved

Aerospace software development engineer degree apprenticeship ” Standard approved

Control / technical support engineer degree apprenticeship ” Standard approved

Manufacturing engineer degree apprenticeship ” Standard approved


For those who may be looking for a slight career change or who may have worked around power plants as sub-contractors for limited periods:


General welder ” Level 2 – Standard and Assessment plan approved

Multi-positional welder ” Level 3 ” Standard and Assessment plan approved

Non-Destructive Testing Operator ” Level 2 ” Standard and Assessment plan approved

Non-Destructive Testing Incorporated Engineer (Degree level) ” Standard in development

Power Engineering International had put it to both the UK and EU that if it is serious about decarbonising the economy, it needs to come up with a proactive set of interventions that will retrain and reskill workers from high-carbon sectors such as coal power engineers, so that they can move into emerging low-carbon sectors.

The European Commission DG for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility (ESF) had responded to say its fund has a key role to play to facilitate the adaptation of workers in particular to industrial changes.

Press officer Sara Soumillion had added, “the Commission will soon present a New Skills Agenda for Europe, which will also pay attention to ‘green skills’ and the possibilities the green industry has to offer in terms of employment.”

Magazine Highlight: Why the power industry must refill its talent pool

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