Around 20% of today’s nuclear workforce will pass the age of 65 in the next ten years, providing a clear indication that we need to guard against the loss of valuable skills and knowledge as experienced workers leave the industry. Therefore, we are faced with an age-old question: how do we fill the nuclear skills gap in light of the nuclear investment surge?
The ageing population
The demand in the engineering sector has always been high but with 70% of managers in the UK’s nuclear industry close to retirement and numerous nuclear new builds on the horizon, now more than ever, experienced workers are in demand. The Nuclear Industry Association (NIA) suggests that this is due to the fact that a new nuclear power station has not been built in almost 20 years. Therefore, the average age of an engineer in the nuclear industry is 54.
Consequently, retirement rates of close to 70% of management is a cause for concern, not just for the lack of human resource but the tacit knowledge of those workers. So, the case in point stresses the need of a plan for the skills deficit in order to have a successful infrastructure future.
What’s the plan?
As we know, the first resource to help meet the immediate programme is the knowledge and experience embedded in the existing workforce.
However, the balance of supply in the nuclear industry relies heavily on the time scale for nuclear new builds and how they may overlap with other programmes. Likewise, in order to prepare for the skills required, the government has devised a Nuclear Skills Strategic Plan to develop a pipeline of skills for future demands and reduce the nuclear skills gap. This plan for the future is because some stations are ten years in the making. Not only this, but a plan has been put into place to ensure more focus on STEM subjects at a young age as well as guaranteeing support to apprenticeship schemes.
All in all, there is great emphasis on encouraging young people into the nuclear sector.
In addition, our recruiters stress the importance of transferable engineering skills. Indeed, most engineering experience in a similar industry is invaluable in the current climate. It’s up to organisations to devise resourcing plans with a range of strategies to attract and recruitment personnel from early career pipelines to experienced hires.
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