Skills plan for nuclear new build

New skills plan to prepare for nuclear new build renaissance, says Prospect

A new roadmap for nuclear skills will help to ensure the UK can meet the demand for specialist and generic skills across all parts of the industry as it embarks upon its much anticipated renaissance, Prospect, the largest union for nuclear workers, has said.

The new National Nuclear Skills Strategic Plan launched today (Thursday), brings industry and government together, to apply national leadership to this crucial sector of the economy. It has been drawn up by employers, government representatives and unions representing both the civil and defence sectors.

Prospect national secretary Gill Wood is the TUC representative on the Nuclear Skills Strategy Group Board, which drew up the plan. She said: “The TUC has worked with the nuclear industry and we welcome the plan’s publication.

“We have not built a nuclear power station in the UK for more than 20 years. The new build renaissance, an ageing workforce and a projected high demand for specialist and generic skills across all parts of the industry, mean the sector has to take action on skills now.

“The Nuclear Workforce Assessment projections show nuclear workforce demand is forecast to rise from 78,000 full time employees in 2015 to 111,000 by 2021. This strategy aims to ensure sufficent fully-trained and highly-skilled people are available to meet this demand.”

The plan is being launched at Nuclear 2016, the Nuclear Industry Association’s annual conference in London today. Speakers include Jesse Norman, Minister for Industry and Energy; Harriet Baldwin, Minister for Defence Procurement; and Robert Halfon, Minister of State for Apprenticeships and Skills.

It sets out 19 strategic topics, which will subsequently be turned into a detailed actions ranging from group training and new bursary schemes for apprentices through to a clear national curriculum and regional skills initiatives.

All of this will be underpinned by an agreed timeline of nuclear sector activities and regularly refreshed labour market information on supply and demand.

Dr Fiona Rayment, director for fuel cycle solutions at the National Nuclear Laboratory and chair of the NSSG board said: “For the first time in decades, the UK is set to build a new fleet of power stations, as part of its continued transition to a low-carbon economy.

“This means that we will need increased numbers of highly-skilled people to build and operate the new fleet, as well as a skilled workforce to continue to run the existing stations, decommission the older ones, safely process nuclear waste and maintain the nuclear defence programme.”

As thinking on the government’s new Industrial Strategy develops, the NSSG’s plan will be modified to take this into account. The plan will also reflect the move from existing reactor technologies to light water reactors, further increasing the demand for new skills, she added.

Actions are divided across three strategic themes:

  • subject matter experts – a relatively small number of experts with specialist skills which take a long time to acquire
  • nuclear skills – specialist skills which are only required in the nuclear industry, such as nuclear safety case engineers
  • generic skills – ready market skills, principally for the construction activities.

To find out more, or download the plan, visit