This industry desperately needs workers. The shortage of specialists is enormous, and the salaries are attractive.

Luc Williams

After 25 countries, including a dozen in Europe, set a goal of tripling global electricity production capacity, Nuclear energy is experiencing a renaissance. But nuclear power producers in France, Britain and Sweden are struggling to find the hundreds of thousands of welders, engineers and other specialists needed for the reactors they are building now and those they plan to build by mid-century.

“Nuclear energy ends the long winter” “We will need trained resources to get the projects off the ground. We don’t have much time to react,” said Philippe Lanoir, president of industry and energy at Syntec-Ingenierie, a French business federation.

France wants to hire 100,000 workers

President Emmanuel Macron wants EDF has built six reactors at an estimated cost of €67.4 billionand then planned to build eight more. The National Unity Party trumps that plan. Marine Le Pen’s group, which dominated the first round of voting, wants to go further than Macron by building 20 reactors in the coming decades.

Meanwhile, some 220,000 workers are aging and potential replacements are looking for work elsewhere. That’s why the industry has outlined a plan to increase vocational training for workers, technicians and engineers, with the goal of employing 100,000 workers over the next decade.

Syntec, which represents some 400 engineering companies, has launched a promotional campaign aimed at teenagers and is trying to improve study and training programs.

New Nuclear Power Plants: France’s Nuclear Program Was Halted in the Early 21st Century / Bloomberg

One quarter of vacancies may be unfilled

The Lanoir Group estimates that potentially a quarter of the jobs created under EDF’s plans could remain unfilled. This is because the workforce is aging and retiring, and schools are lagging behind in training. In addition, young people are choosing more dynamic, attention-grabbing industries, such as solar and wind energy.

EDF, whose latest power plant took 17 years to build, has recognized lack of labour as the main obstacle to recovery planned by Macron in 2022. EDF felt the lack of specialists particularly during the repair of the failure in 2022. To handle dozens of repairs to the reactor pipes, the company was forced to bring in workers from North America.

Thomas Branche, executive vice president of new nuclear and energy buildings at French engineering firm Assystem, said that given the competition for human resources, some players are willing to offer higher salary increases than in other sectors. He also added that in terms of wages, the nuclear industry is currently one of the most attractive sectors.

EDF’s needs extend beyond France’s borders

EDF builds UK nuclear project Hinkley Point C The UK reactor is also being delayed by labour shortages and supply chain problems. The Hinkley Point C nuclear project is seeing its price tag skyrocket to around £48 billion ($61 billion) after inflation.

Another UK project run by EDF, the Sizewell C nuclear power station in Suffolk, is also in trouble. The utility and UK authorities are trying to convince private investors to help finance the pair of reactors at Sizewell. The projects are part of the UK’s commitment to quadruple capacity of nuclear power plants by 2050

It is expected that this goal will be achieved This decade will require the involvement of 123,000 people – the government has said. To help plug the workforce gap, the government and industry – including EDF, BAE Systems Plc and Rolls Royce – are committing £763m to boost apprenticeships and vocational training.

“We are undertaking the biggest expansion of nuclear power in 70 years and we need a homegrown pool of talent to drive our nuclear ambitions,” said Amanda Solloway, UK Secretary of State for Energy Consumers and Affordability.

British government is looking for candidates on the subway

The British government believes that the best place to find specialists is the Underground. From February to April, ads from the British portal Destination Nuclear appeared at Victoria, Paddington and Charing Cross underground stations: “Whatever you do, you can do nuclear energy.”

The target group of the advertisements were people who were open to changing jobs.A Destination Nuclear spokeswoman said the campaign will target younger people this autumn and will be rolled out through social media and possibly TV ads.

The industry is organizing throughout Great Britain skills camps for mid-career professionals. Weekly programs for training health physics monitors and project control planners were held in June, and sessions for novice welders were planned for July.

Sweden focuses on education

Sweden has six operational reactors and the government has said it needs at least 10 more by meet demand from electrification of transportation and industry. That would require hiring tens of thousands of workers, said Carl Berglof, nuclear coordinator. “It would be strange if the education system didn’t see the opportunity and address the problem,” he said.

State-owned public utility company Vattenfallwhich operates five reactors, is retraining current workers and recruiting new people from other industries known for large infrastructure projects, said Chief Executive Anna Borg.

It also works with schools and universities to raise awareness. Uppsala University, north of Stockholm, organizes free lunches where faculty members introduce students to courses and careers in nuclear energy.


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