Connor, Level 4 Engineering HNC

A potential promotion was the catalyst for Connor Short to enrol on the Level 4 Engineering HNC at Lancaster and Morecambe College.

Connor, 26, originally from Anglesey and now living in Heysham, joined EDF Energy in 2015 on an apprenticeship. After serving his time, he progressed to become a mechanical technician. In January, an opportunity to become a technical advice engineer arose and Connor was seconded to the role for 12 months while he completed his HNC.

If successful, the position will be made permanent in 2025 – and Connor will graduate with an additional higher technical qualification.

Connor said: “I think that HNC course has helped me and will enable me to progress.

“There are lots of people at Heysham who have completed the courses previously. Quite a lot of those have risen through the ranks as a result of the courses they’ve done.”

So far, Connor’s cohort has been taught problem-solving skills like fault finding – putting his mathematical skills to the test.

He said: “I’ve been able to apply my maths skills to do some fault finding on flows and pressures. Being from a mechanical background, I’ve had a bit more of a diverse learning experience so far.”

Connor served the first two years of his apprenticeship at naval base HMS Salton. He and other recruits also completed placements at the two sites at Heysham, two in Scotland, one in Sizewell, Hinckley Point near Bridgewater, Somerset and Dungeness. He said: “The idea was everyone would go to a localised training centre, so the standard of training is consistent. This way there is no deviation when they come back to site.”

Speaking about EDF Energy, which continually invests in upskilling and reskilling employees, Connor said: “I think the company definitely supports you in every way that they can.

“In the last four or five years, a lot of people retired and a lot of younger people have progressed within the company. The company has been really supportive by offering us the HNC. A lot of the more senior roles advertised require a foundation degree, HNC, or equivalent qualifications. This course allows us to progress up the career ladder.

“The engineering science module went through not just mechanical, but the electrical principles as well. I’ve definitely been able to use them to help fault find in electrical control and instrumentation stuff.”

Speaking about his peers, he said: “There’s a real mix of roles on the course from the team at EDF. Two of them are environmental safety technicians hoping to progress to become radiological protection engineers.”

The HNC is also offered to apprentices – but Connor’s entry route was different to most. He explains: “I was on a different programme, so I worked on coal and gas and the turbines. I was travelling a lot and didn’t have the opportunity to do a HNC. EDF have given us the opportunity now to do it.

“The qualification allows employees to apply for other roles, such as engineering design, engineering leadership roles, assistant team leaders and leaders.

“The site, subject to close in 2030, will take a number of years to decommission. This will pave the way for different roles such as in decommissioning engineering to ensure the site retains its relevant licences.”

Connor is hoping to continue with his studies, progressing on to Higher National Diploma level at Blackpool & The Fylde College – another Lancashire and Cumbria Institute of Technology education partner.

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