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Power Academy opens doors to next-generation engineers

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This week saw the launch of the Power Academy at the Institute of Electrical Engineers (IEE) in London, aimed at combating a serious shortfall in the number of power engineers in the UK.

A joint initiative between the UK's electricity network companies, three leading engineering universities and the IEE, the programme will recruit 40 undergraduates, with the numbers rising every year as demand increases.

The Academy will be funded by the network companies and will cover tuition fees, provide a bursary and money for course materials, provide paid summer placements and offer a summer school in business and management skills.

Launching the initiative, Stephen Timms, the UK energy minister, said: “We are committed to maintaining reliable and secure power supplies and that means ensuring the people who manage this process are of the highest calibre. The Power Academy will prove an invaluable asset in identifying and nurturing expertise in the electricity generation field.”

Bill Olner MP, chairman of the Associate Parliamentary Engineering Group has this week tabled an Early Day Motion congratulating all those involved in creating the Power Academy. He said: “We all rely on the skill and expertise of engineers to keep the country's electricity networks running. We need to be confident enough younger people are entering the profession to replace those approaching retirement. This initiative is most welcome and deserves parliament's backing, which is why I have tabled a motion which I hope will attract wide cross-party support.”

The networking companies backing the Power Academy are Central Networks, Scottish and Southern Energy, EDF Energy, Scottish Power, Western Power Distribution, CE Electric, United Utilities and National Grid Transco, as well as EA Technology – the R&D arm of the networking companies. The supporting universities are the University of Strathclyde, the University of Southampton and the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology.

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