A programme to build new nuclear power stations could generate 30,000 jobs - three times the number for the 2012 Olympic Games - over the coming 15 years, according to research from Cogent, but contractors warn that more needs to be done to engage the supply chain.
The study considered the resources need to build six twin nuclear reactor stations capable of generating 16GW - enough to supply 80% of current household electricity demands - by 2025.
1,000 new apprentices would need to be engaged each year, with another 110,000-140,000 skilled nuclear workers. The research suggests this translates to an additional 1,000 STEM, (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) graduates in the civil nuclear industry and supply chain, each year to 2025.
Cogent’s Director of Science and Research, Dr Brian Murphy said the research “Identifies the critical skills for tomorrow’s UK nuclear renaissance today. It is the best intelligence of the skills bodies who have formed the Nuclear Energy Skills Alliance.
“The Nuclear Energy Skills Alliance is committed to maintaining the momentum on skills. But most importantly, if the collaboration of the employers through this work is a measure of the will for nuclear to succeed, then the future is optimistic, if challenging,” he said.
Chair of the Nuclear Energy Alliance Steering Group and Chief Executive of the National Skills Academy for Nuclear Jean Llewellyn said: “This report is of fundamental importance in clarifying the future skills needs of this dynamic sector. The National Skills Academy for Nuclear will continue to work with our employer members to address the recommendations of the report. Developments such as the Nuclear Skills Passport will be of fundamental importance in ensuring workforce mobility and in demonstrating excellence across the breadth of the nuclear industry.”
But the Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA) warned that more needed to be done to engage people and ensure those people fed through to new nuclear.
CECA Head of Industry Affairs, Alasdair Reisner, said: “No-one should be under any illusion as to the scale of challenge the UK faces in order to deliver the targeted goal of 16GW of new nuclear generating capacity by 2025. The Government and industry has worked well together to tackle the potential pitfalls on the route toward this goal.
“But significant challenges still remain. Key among these challenges is the need to ensure that there are sufficient skilled workers available to fill all of the roles required to build new nuclear power stations in a safe, timely and cost effective manner.
“The publication of Next Generation: Skills for New Nuclear sets a route-map to tackle this issue, creating a clear, single set of objectives that the whole industry can sign up to deliver. It is now vital that all parts of the sector work together to share the work that will be required to meet these objectives.
“A failure to do so would put the targets in jeopardy, increasing the risk that the UK would face blackouts as future generation capacity fails to meet demand.”