A 'golden opportunity' for Govt to prioritise UK skills by developing a national manufacturing apprenticeship programme and support the civil application of RR cutting-edge technology mini-nuclear reactors (SMR's) for domestic power supply 

Unite, the UK’s leading union, has welcomed the announcement that future SSNR- AUKUS submarines will be built in the UK at Barrow and Adelaide, Australia, using US technology with nuclear engines from Rolls Royce in Derby.

The deal secures thousands of skilled well-paid jobs at BAE Systems and Rolls Royce and across the UK supply chain for decades to come and is a testament to our highly skilled members.

Unite said the government must now ensure that it works with businesses and trade unions to develop a national manufacturing apprenticeship programme to deliver the next generation of skilled women and men. The union said the government must also support the UK design, build and delivery of the Rolls Royce nuclear engines into a civil application to generate clean electrical energy for the UK power grid. 

Unite national officer Rhys McCarthy said: “Unite welcomes the announcement of the future SSNR-AUKUS submarines. The government must see this as a golden opportunity to invest in the future, whether that be in thousands of new highly skilled apprentices or in the technology transfer of Rolls Royce small modular reactors into civilian use to meet the challenges of net zero and our energy security.

“This is also an international project and Unite has already built good relationships with our sister unions in Australia and the US and we will continue to make sure the workload is shared and workers wherever they may be are treated fairly."

Unite believes the government needs to ensure the use of mini-reactors for power generation is not farmed out to the cheapest international bidder. UK skills in this sector are world-leading and the government needs to help it flourish through proactive domestic procurement policies.

Unite believes that companies like BAE Systems and Rolls Royce are committed to and are investing in apprentices but that the UK needs a government that is willing to develop a national manufacturing apprenticeship programme to meet an ongoing skills shortage, which is in danger of becoming a national crisis that will damage the nation’s security and prosperity. 


For media enquires ONLY contact Unite communications officer Ryan Fletcher on 07849 090215.

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Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Sharon Graham.