Is the UK nuclear industry ready for IR35?
Sam Mabbott, nuclear divisional manager at Morson, warns that IR35 reform could cause 'serious disruption' to the nuclear workforce. In this article with NS Energy Sam discusses how IR35 will affect the contractor landscape in the nuclear industry.
From April 2020, the legislation governing IR35 in the private sector for medium to large organisations will change and the UK industry needs to prepare itself for a set of new recruitment challenges ahead of IR35 reform.
As a consquence nuclear organisations will need to shake up the packages they offer to candidates to retain their competitive edge and remain in line with regulation.
Today, the nuclear engineering workforce is, undoubtedly, ageing. Many stalwart engineers are either retiring or opting to move away from contracting, and there are not as many people progressing through the ranks to take their place. Therefore sourcing enough candidates to meet the mammoth number of projects requiring talent is a struggle.
But it is set to become even harder with the changes proposed to IR35.
Today, the tandem of a nuclear skills shortage and IR35 puts more power in a candidate’s hands than ever before. A candidate will always seek out the best working conditions, a progressive environment and companies which offer benefits packages that outweigh their competitors.
But while previously a candidate might have had to consider Client A and Client B and deem them very similar. Now, they will look at which client has changed its terms and conditions and ways of working to ensure contractors can work outside of IR35.
Against the backdrop of a major skills shortage, companies that have this “safety net” will ensure they have talent at their disposal to complete projects on time, to budget and with an outstanding reputation intact.
While IR35 reform looks set to inflict changes on the industry in the next few months, we can take solace in the fact that engineers entering the nuclear industry in 10 years will know nothing else.
However, organisations in the nuclear industry must make changes today to ensure that a new generation of engineers sees the sector as a positive, safe and inclusive place to work.
Morson, which has been in the industry for 50 years, is working hard to set those wheels in motion. We have built a relationship with Salford City College to promote the nuclear industry to engineering apprentices, encouraging them to undertake courses in chemical and electrical fields at university to create niche skillsets.
We’ve also pledged to double the number of women working in the field by 2020, as so far, the industry has done relatively little to welcome females into what has always been a male-dominated arena.
As part of the Nuclear Sector Deal, agreed in 2018, the industry has a target of 40% of women working in the UK nuclear industry by 2030.
Looking ahead, candidates will be drawn to those companies which show they can rise above business challenges such as IR35 and a skills shortage to attract the best talent.