Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Seats at the Nuclear Employment Table

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (2010 data), a nuclear technician can earn an average of $68,090 per year or $32.73 per hour with an Associate’s degree and no experience — none, as in nada, zilch, zip — in the industry. Power plant operators, distributors and dispatchers controlling systems that generate and distribute electric power can earn as much as $65,360 with a high school diploma, while nuclear engineers are paid $99,920 with a Bachelor’s degree.

The key word in that paragraph is nada, as the story in Politic365 is about the potential for ambitious young Latinos to join the nuclear energy industry. Now, you may ask, anyone can get into the industry without consideration of ethnic background, right?

That’s certainly true. For those that rankle at minority communities being targeted for potential careers and jobs, it’s really more an issue of communicating the existence and potential of those jobs than picking people off the street and installing them in those jobs. One still has to apply for them and prove capable of doing the work. And a good many of the jobs require educational achievement and even more than that.

“The nuclear energy industry pays more because it requires security clearance. As in police and firefighters’ jobs, young men and women in this industry need to ‘keep their nose clean’ and be on the right path. The difference is that right now state and local government jobs are fading away while these well-paid union jobs will continue to increase in the near future,” Avilla said. “So why not encourage our children to take those jobs?” — especially if they are being seeked [sic; sought] out by the industry.

Avilla is Hispanic Elected Local Officials (HELO) President Karen Avilla. She is also a member of the CASEnergy Coalition, a nuclear advocacy group that has shown an increased interest  in minority job recruitment in recent years.

The most marked aspect of the jobs available in nuclear energy is that they foster solid middle class lives, something that has become more difficult to achieve for the current generation of young people. You can buy a house, get married and raise a family in relative comfort on these salaries – not least because most nuclear energy facilities are not near urban centers, but more likely in suburban or exurban communities. Dollars go further.

However one promotes the jobs, the bottom line for any ethnic community – including Anglo-American - is that the work is available, pays well, does not always demand a large educational investment, provides work that cannot be exported, and encourages a diverse employment base. It’s a pretty welcoming picture altogether.

I realize this has gotten to be more of a sales pitch than I intended, but so be it. The nuclear energy industry really does have a lot of positives from a potential employee’s point of view. I’ll just go all the way with it and point you to NEI’s Careers and Education pages.

The pictures (and more on the companies’ diversity commitments) : PSEG, Entergy, and Exelon.

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