Sizewell A’s Matt Johnson has completed the first health physics apprenticeship in the Magnox fleet, racing to his achievement in just 18 months instead of the standard two years – and with a Distinction in his theory exam.
“But I did have a head start,” he explains. “As I’d already been working in health physics for a few years but didn’t have qualifications to match my experience and knowledge.”
“When I started out at Sizewell, I was part of the operations shift, defueling the reactors and monitoring / operating the plant. When that was completed and the operations team was reduced in number, I joined the day health physics team.”
“I was really keen to do the apprenticeship, which involved a large amount of theory and practical training – all valuable for the future, even though I was already working in the day health physics team.”
The modern Nuclear Sector Health Physics Apprenticeship Level 2 was provided through the National College for Nuclear, Southern Hub, near Bridgwater and is specifically tailored for nuclear professionals. Its first cohort numbered just over a handful and Matt was the first from Magnox to qualify. Modern apprenticeships, offering both theory and on-the-job training, are open to adult entrants as well as younger people.
“We were the guinea pigs for this first apprenticeship, in a way, and I’m sure our feedback will help, as the course is refined for the next trainees and the new generation of health physics monitors,” he added.
And for good measure, Matt also now has completed Level 2 Radiation Protection NVQ, achieved just three months after the apprenticeship, which replaced the old City & Guilds qualification.
Thirty-one-year-old Matt signed up for the Army at 17 and completed five years with the Royal Engineers, including a six-month operational tour in Afghanistan, before embarking on his nuclear career.
Nuclear Health Physics Monitors are an integral part of the nuclear workforce, providing a wide range of radiological services to protect people, plant and the environment from on-site radiation hazards and contamination.