Act now on nuclear skills

Prospect union sounds alarm on nuclear skills gap

The drive to achieve a secure low-carbon energy supply for the future will be jeopardised if action isn't taken to recruit more highly skilled graduates and apprentices into the industry.

That is the message Prospect national secretary Gill Wood will deliver to ministers and MPs at a panel discussion hosted at the Palace of Westminster by Preston MP Mark Hendrick (today, Wednesday).

The event will explore the nuclear sector's key role in the transition to a low-carbon economy, as well as the opportunities for high-tech and high-skill jobs in both new build and decommissioning.

Other members of the panel include energy minister Michael Fallon, shadow energy minister Tom Greatrex, John Idris Jones, director of the energy research and development lobby group Energy Island, and a representative from Rolls Royce.

Speaking beforehand Wood said: "It is imperative we take action to attract more graduates, and stimulate investment in the nuclear workforce of tomorrow.

"There is a deficit of skilled graduates going into the civil nuclear sector. The industry is recruiting around 240 graduates and 500 apprentices a year. Cogent, the industry's skills council, says 1,000 new recruits a year are required."

Measures like the government's Nuclear Industrial Strategy, which has an action plan for the nuclear supply chain and strategic skills, are welcome, but Wood questions whether they will be enough.

"It's an exciting sector – the whole of society crumbles when there is no power – but that is the message we must get across to attract investment and talent."

Wood will be returning to the issue of the nuclear skills gap in April at TotalDECOM, a major conference bringing together over 200 leaders from all sectors of the decommissioning industry and government. For more information visit

Prospect represents 118,000 members, including 21,000 scientists, engineers, managers and other professionals in nuclear decommissioning and energy supply at employers including HSE Nuclear Installations Inspectorate, Sellafield, Westinghouse, UK Atomic Energy Authority, Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, Magnox Reactor Sites, British Energy, EDF Energy, E.On UK, RWE npower, Scottish and Southern Energy, Scottish Power, Western Power Distribution and National Grid.