After the EPR failures, EDF will open a welding high school

Industrialists certainly like to use mythology in times of turmoil. We think especially of Prometheus when it comes to the future Ariane rocket engine. This time, Hefaïstos, the god of blacksmithing and metalworking in ancient Greece, was summoned to EPR’s bedside. Two years after the CEO of EDF announced the implementation of the plan Excel to solve the loss of skills in the nuclear sector, the energy company is preparing to inaugurate in the Channel a “high school of welding” by the name of Hefaïs.

Promised by Jean-Bernard Levy after the publication of the -severe- report by Jean-Martin Folz on the failure of the third Flamanville reactor, the establishment was born of an unprecedented alliance between EDF, Orano, Naval Group and the Normandy Metallurgical Constructions (CMN) supported by the Union of Industry and Metallurgy Trades (UIMM), the State (as part of the Investments for the Future Program) and the Normandy Region. At a cost of 12 million euros, its ambition is to train no less than ” the best welders and welders in France “. By better, we mean professionals who are able to meet the very high level of requirements of naval and nuclear specialists.

There is a significant gap between the welder who works in a conventional environment and the one who intervenes in these environments where it is necessary to master the same technical movement, but also very specialized industrial processes and documentary. », underlined Corentin Lelièvre, director of Hefaïs.

Immersive training

Get a ” innovative pedagogy “, the school will offer its students the opportunity to train full-scale industrial models. That reproduce the same ballast of a ship, the cell of a nuclear power plant or even controlled areas in Orano’s sites. . “ The learner is truly projected into his future work environment. He will understand the constraints of radiation protection, heat and depression in real conditions “said David Le Hir, president of the structure, also director of the Flamanville 1 and 2 power plant. The course, which will last seven months of initial training, will be enhanced with the use of virtual and augmented reality.

Temporarily installed in La Hague pending the construction of a new building in Cherbourg in the Cotentin Agglomeration, Hefaïs will initially welcome employees from subcontracting companies before opening next year in starters: “ looking for work and retraining people » thanks to the funding from the Region. Objective: to unite the annual promotion of about 200 students from all over France. This size echoes a study carried out last year by the Manche Chamber of Commerce. It estimates the need for welders of 700 in 2025 for the territory of Normandy: a figure that does not seem to be underestimated.

Chances are it’s raining

The next few years, in fact, will be marked by the start of many large construction sites in the naval and nuclear branches of Normandy, starting with the two EPRs in Penly (Seine-Maritime) where the requirements are great. To measure this, let’s remember that a power station has more than 130 kilometers of pipes and that ” its construction required 316,000 welds », as the engineer Alain Tranzer pointed out recently, commissioned by Jean-Bernard Levy to lead the plan Very good.

A call for air is also expected at the Orano site in La Hague with the construction of the future spent fuel storage plant, which will be delivered in 2035. Finally, at the Naval Group in Cherbourg, the decade will be occupied by the ramp -up to the new third-generation ballistic missile nuclear submarine program – known as SNLE 3G – which is also in the works. We see it,” the best welders and welders in France guaranteed to find outlets.

All that remains is to convince the candidates to join. ” Recruitment of future students will be national “, we say in Hefaïs. Undoubtedly a wise decision knowing the lack of appetite of the younger generation for industrial trades.