Skip to main content

Another Look at Work Force Issues

Late on Friday afternoon, The WSJ Energy Blog picked up on an issue we've been writing about for some time now, namely the challenges ahead for the industry as it faces of wave of retirements inside the nuclear work force:
The shrinking nuclear power workforce is “a big issue,” that the industry would have to resolve even if new nuclear plants weren’t on the drawing board, said Randy Hutchinson, senior vice president of nuclear business development for New Orleans-based Entergy Corp. “Building new plants, to some extent, compounds that problem,” he said.

About 27% of the nation’s nuclear power employees, about 15,600 workers, will be eligible to retire in the next five years, according to the Nuclear Energy Institute, the industry’s Washington lobbying group. Nearly half U.S. nuclear power employees are older than 47, and less than 8% are younger than 32, according to the NEI. Meanwhile, the number of university nuclear engineering programs has declined in the U.S. to about 29 from 65 in 1980, turning out fewer nuclear engineers.
But while the facts in the post might all be true -- after all, they came from NEI -- it still doesn't tell the whole story.

For starters, I suggest you read these two fact sheets produced by NEI:

Nuclear Energy Industry Initiatives Target Looming Shortage of Skilled Workers
Expanded Manufacturing Capacity Needed To Support New Nuclear Plant Construction

And as NRC Chairman Dale Klein said in a speech earlier this year, his agency is well aware of the challenge as well -- one that isn't limited to utilities.

Finally, be sure to check out our Careers and Education section at NEI.org.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Knowing What You’ve Got Before It’s Gone in Nuclear Energy

The following is a guest post from Matt Wald, senior director of policy analysis and strategic planning at NEI. Follow Matt on Twitter at @MattLWald.

Nuclear energy is by far the largest source of carbon prevention in the United States, but this is a rough time to be in the business of selling electricity due to cheap natural gas and a flood of subsidized renewable energy. Some nuclear plants have closed prematurely, and others likely will follow.
In recent weeks, Exelon and the Omaha Public Power District said that they might close the Clinton, Quad Cities and Fort Calhoun nuclear reactors. As Joni Mitchell’s famous song says, “Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone.”
More than 100 energy and policy experts will gather in a U.S. Senate meeting room on May 19 to talk about how to improve the viability of existing nuclear plants. The event will be webcast, and a link will be available here.
Unlike other energy sources, nuclear power plants get no specia…

Making Clouds for a Living

Donell Banks works at Southern Nuclear’s Plant Vogtle units 3 and 4 as a shift supervisor in Operations, but is in the process of transitioning to his newly appointed role as the daily work controls manager. He has been in the nuclear energy industry for about 11 years.

I love what I do because I have the unique opportunity to help shape the direction and influence the culture for the future of nuclear power in the United States. Every single day presents a new challenge, but I wouldn't have it any other way. As a shift supervisor, I was primarily responsible for managing the development of procedures and programs to support operation of the first new nuclear units in the United States in more than 30 years. As the daily work controls manager, I will be responsible for oversight of the execution and scheduling of daily work to ensure organizational readiness to operate the new units.

I envision a nuclear energy industry that leverages the technology of today to improve efficiency…

Nuclear: Energy for All Political Seasons

The electoral college will soon confirm a surprise election result, Donald Trump. However, in the electricity world, there are fewer surprises – physics and economics will continue to apply, and Republicans and Democrats are going to find a lot to like about nuclear energy over the next four years.

In a Trump administration, the carbon conversation is going to be less prominent. But the nuclear value proposition is still there. We bring steady jobs to rural areas, including in the Rust Belt, which put Donald Trump in office. Nuclear plants keep the surrounding communities vibrant.

We hold down electricity costs for the whole economy. We provide energy diversity, reducing the risk of disruption. We are a critical part of America’s industrial infrastructure, and the importance of infrastructure is something that President-Elect Trump has stressed.

One of our infrastructure challenges is natural gas pipelines, which have gotten more congested as extremely low gas prices have pulled m…