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Showcase event highlights high tech boom in Cumbria

West Cumbria's high tech energy sector has been booming. It's thanks to the presence of Sellafield which continues to train and draw-in highly skilled engineers to the region.

Many small and medium sized companies are beginning to thrive there as well.

An event's been held in Workington to showcase successful firms and provide them with new opportunities.

Matthew Taylor reports:

Engineering skills gap opens up in West Cumbria

A gap has opened up between the availability of skilled engineers in West Cumbria and the numbers of jobs that area being created there

The problem is that the energy sector is continuing to grow but the level of skills isn't increasing at the same rate.

It's an issue that was discussed at the Cumbria Excellence Day, an invent to promote small and medium sized businesses.

Luke Dicicco from Britain's Energy Coast - which helps local firms to invest in skills - says it's a problem that is being addressed.


Sellafield creates business opportunities in Cumbria

Sellafield has been promising to make it easier for local businesses to win contracts from the company.

George Beveridge, Deputy Managing Director at Sellafield, says terms and conditions have been simplified for small and medium companies.

He made the announcement at Cumbria Excellence Day, a special event that has been showcasing the success of the energy sector in West Cumbria.

New Chairman for Britain's Energy Coast

A new chairman has been appointed at Britain's Energy Coast at a time the organisation moves in a new direction.

Brian Wilson has stepped down after five years at the helm.

The former UK Energy Minister who took the role in April 2009 when BEC was formed, has handed the reins at the end of his term to Interim Chair and independent Board Member Nigel Catterson.

“Early in BEC’s history, the Northwest Regional Development Agency disappeared making this funding all the more crucial to the local economy but also, inevitably, increasing the demands and expectations placed upon it.

"In response, BEC has developed a strategy to focus on transformational projects which will create maximum benefit for West Cumbria’s future ability to attract investment.

"BEC has also become very effective at using its money to leverage additional funding from other sources.”

– Rt Hon Brian Wilson

BEC have decided to refocus and in the future it will be directly supporting fewer, bigger programmes that are more geared towards establishing and promoting West Cumbria as a centre of nuclear excellence.

“I’m of course honoured to be charged with this interim assignment and look forward to working with the Board, partners and executive.

"There is much to be done in terms of shaping BEC and what it delivers to support the shared aspiration of establishing a robust and diverse economy in West Cumbria which enhances our strengths in nuclear and embraces low carbon and renewable energy.

"We have a very firm foundation on which to build and a great deal of momentum behind our work.”

– Nigel Catterson, new chair of Britain's Energy Coast

Fab Lab opens in West Cumbria

A new facility to help businesses and groups in West Cumbria develop design ideas has opened in Cockermouth.

The idea is that community groups, businesses, individual entrepreneurs and inventors can use the Fab Lab to design new products on digital programmes and have them created on site.

The sorts of things that can be developed are interior design products or anything that can be used as a prototype for engineering projects.

Designers based at the Fab Lab can help people make their products.

The only thing that the person has to pay for is the materials used in the products themselves.

The facility is funded through the Britain's Energy Coast economic development organisation which is an initiative that helps businesses in West Cumbria.


Full report: New construction skills centre opens in west Cumbria

Hundreds of young people are going to be able to train as construction workers in a new skills centre in West Cumbria.

The training facilities will be among the most up-to-date in the world.

It is part of the scheme known as Britain's Energy Coast.

The aim of it is to revitalise the west of the county.

The centre has been built at the Lakes College, west Cumbria, in Lillyhall.

Tim Backshall has this report: