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Selby College and Drax Secure Funding to Support the Green Workforce of the Future

Tuesday 7 December 2021

Cameron Shipstone, Drax 4th Year Apprentice, Steve Butler Engineering Manager at Selby College, Liz Ridley Deputy Principal at Selby College, Bruce Heppenstall Drax Plant Director, Lewis Marron, Drax 4th Year Apprentice.
  • Selby College and Drax have secured more than £270,000 of funding from government to develop the UK’s first educational programmes in carbon capture, to enable the renewable energy company to develop a workforce fit for the future.
  • The training will equip Drax’s employees with knowledge, skills, and practical experience, to operate the vital climate saving negative emissions technology bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS).
  • The initiative between Drax and Selby College will help to protect jobs, plug the skills gap, and build a workforce with the vital skills needed in the transition to net zero - and builds on an existing £180,000, five-year partnership aimed at supporting education and skills.
Bruce Heppenstall Drax Plant Director, Lewis Marron, Drax 4th Year Apprentice, and Liz Ridley Deputy Principal at Selby College
Bruce Heppenstall Drax Plant Director, Lewis Marron, Drax 4th Year Apprentice, and Liz Ridley Deputy Principal at Selby College

Selby College has secured funding to develop an education programme that will enable the renewable energy company’s employees to develop the skills needed to operate the vital climate saving technologies of the future.

The £272,000 grant, from the Department for Education’s Strategic Development Fund, will allow the College to develop a brand-new training course in carbon capture and storage technologies, supporting Drax’s plans to develop the vital negative emission technology BECCS at its power station near Selby.

The course will start next year and will equip both current and future Drax employees with the vital skills needed to operate this critical negative emissions technology, ensuring the region is at the forefront of the green industrial revolution.

The programme will also be available to other organisations and individuals interested in developing their knowledge and understanding about carbon capture and storage. The course is being designed as an introduction to the subject, with the aim of adding more modules and units over time.

Liz Ridley, Deputy Principal of Selby College, said: “Selby College is committed to supporting businesses and industries to develop specific training programmes that support their current and future workforce development. Our ongoing partnership with Drax has enabled us to secure this funding to create tailored education plans that will equip its workforce and supply chain with the skills needed as we transition into a zero-emission future.”

Bruce Heppenstall, Plant Director at Drax, said: “It’s critical businesses like Drax have access to a skilled workforce, with the knowledge and expertise to operate negative emissions technologies that will be vital in enabling the UK to reach its legally binding net zero targets. Through our partnership with Selby College, we are able to futureproof our workforce, ensuring we are at the forefront of the green industrial revolution, creating and protecting thousands of jobs here in the North.

“Deploying BECCS at Drax will not only deliver for the environment, but it will also deliver for the economy. It could kickstart a whole new sector of the economy and be the catalyst for a post-covid economic recovery.”

Minister for Skills Alex Burghart said: "It is fantastic to see Selby College working with Drax to offer people the skills they need to progress in green careers in their area.

"Offering people the chance to upskill in the latest in-demand technologies is vital to plug skills gaps in our economy, and ensure we have a workforce fit for the future."

Nigel Adams, MP for Selby and Ainsty, said: “Electricity generated by Drax using sustainable biomass is key to expanding the wider economy of Yorkshire and Humberside. The transition from coal to biomass demonstrated how businesses can transform and thrive as part of our new “net zero” economy.

To build on this leadership it is vital that businesses like Drax have the skilled workforce to operate the new green technologies and maintain their leading position. The ongoing partnership between Selby College and Drax will provide the essential facilities and courses for local people to develop their skills, and I look forward to seeing this partnership flourish and feed into the development of clean green industries across our region.”

Through its transition from using coal to sustainable biomass, Drax has safeguarded hundreds of jobs at its power station, as well as more than 6,600 across its supply chain in the North. It aims to go further by building BECCS, with the creation of more than ten thousand jobs at the project’s peak. Its first BECCS unit could be up and running in 2027, delivering the world’s biggest carbon capture project, permanently locking away millions of tonnes of CO2 each year.

The new CCS educational programme builds on a five-year, £180,000 partnership Drax announced with Selby College in 2020, which enabled the College to invest in ICT equipment to support remote learning, as well as state-of-the-art engineering equipment and a series of events on green energy.