HINKLEY C has reached a milestone in terms of appointing apprentices - with the latest influx meaning 500 are working toward the first new nuclear power plant in a generation based in Somerset.

The latest intake of apprentices are indirectly contributing to Hinkley C,

They are employed by HOST, a business providing accommodation for thousands of workers on site at the Hinkley Campus close to the site, and the Sedgemoor Campus based off of Bath Road in Bridgwater.

The new apprentices will gain qualifications in a range of subjects including hospitality, accountancy, HR and catering.

Hinkley C has already helped to create more than 8.500 jobs with thousands more to follow over the coming years.

EDF says the project is on track to create 1,000 apprenticeships during construction, and says the same policy will be repeated for people in Suffolk and East Anglia at the proposed follow-on project at Sizewell C.

Lauren Withers, aged 23 from Bridgwater is part of the latest group and is studying accountancy.

She said: “I grew up in Bridgwater so it’s fantastic to have the opportunity on my doorstep to stay in the area and develop my career without having to move away.

"My previous job was at a local bank branch and now my apprenticeship will take my skills to the next level and help me progress into management accounting.”

Other examples include Jade Arnold, from Taunton, who is the HOST training manager, and an apprentice himself.

Mr Arnold said: “Funding from EDF Energy’s apprenticeship levy transfer is allowing us to up-skill our workforce over the longer term. As a local company, it means we are in the best possible place to continue supporting the project and ensure we are ready for opportunities of the future, whether in Somerset or beyond.”

Bethany Sharkey, from Bridgwater is enjoying a career change as she completes her Lifting Technician Apprenticeship with one of HPC’s main contract partners, Bylor.

As one of the sites newest recruits, Bethany was previously working in a dental laboratory in Bridgwater before getting a job on-site as a handywoman until moving into her apprenticeship.

“I saw the tower cranes and realised I wanted to drive one,” she said.

“I wouldn’t be who I am without this apprenticeship and couldn’t imagine myself doing anything different.

"It’s incredible to be part of such a huge project and sometimes I can’t really grasp the scale of the development opportunities ahead of me.

"Who knows where the work will take me? Perhaps I’ll drive the biggest lifting crane in the world!”

Sam Shaw, from Watchet, joined the HPC team after 10 years as a local bricklayer and wanted a move into a managerial role.

“I wasn’t sure I could do it at first,” said Sam. “But with the support of the team at Hinkley Point C, I’m now working towards my BSc in Quantity Surveying and Commercial Management. It’s definitely setting me up for the future.”

Meanwhile Finn Cavanagh, from Wedmore is a graduate of the Supported Traineeship, and is now a Bylor General Storeman.

It’s his first permanent role after completing his training.

Finn said: “During the programme, we practised skills like teamwork problem solving and using initiative.

"I’ve learnt and developed a whole range of skills working in the stores."

EDF say the success in recruiting and employing local people is the result of work within the community, such as the Inspire Education programme which has visited almost 500 schools and colleges in the area, and Young HPC, which provides careers advice and support for 16 to 21-year-olds.

EDF also says the HPC Job Service has helped to ensure that almost 50 per cent of the site’s workforce is local.

Chris Young, education and skills delivery manager, said: “I’m extremely proud of our commitment to reach ambitious targets for the training of the next generation.

"There are still a huge range of opportunities that the Hinkley Point C project through apprenticeships or our many routes into work and training.

"There is an option for everyone, no matter your previous background or skill-set.”

Cllr David Hall, cabinet member for economic development, planning and community infrastructure at Somerset County Council said: “I am extremely pleased to see Hinkley Point C welcome the 500th apprentice.

"This adds to Somerset’s skilled workforce and will contribute in the long-term to the economic legacy of HPC.

“A lot of hard work has gone into ensuring the successful implementation of EDF Energy’s workforce development strategy.

"With many more opportunities available, the power station’s 10-year construction period and a 60 year operating life expectancy, many of our future Hinkley Point C employees will be in the classrooms of today.”

To find out more about the latest opportunities visit: edfenergy.com/hpceducationandskills