More than a third (35%) of students studying a STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subject don’t believe they can work in the nuclear industry according to new figures from the Nuclear Industry Association (NIA).
The survey of 1,376 young people shows that while 32% of respondents would be open to working in the nuclear sector, almost half (43%) don’t believe they are studying a relevant subject and 14% have never heard about career options in the industry. This highlights the importance of careers advice in schools from a young age, to make young people aware of the opportunities in all sectors.
When respondents were told about the variety of jobs in the sector 30% said they were more likely to consider a career in the nuclear industry. When given more information, 27% who previously thought they weren’t studying a relevant subject, were more likely to consider a career in the nuclear industry, 41% of those not previously aware of the career options in the nuclear industry would consider it as a future option and 14% who previously stated that they weren’t interested in the nuclear industry, would be more likely to consider it.
Up to 140,000 workers could be required to deliver the nuclear new build programme through to 2030. New recruits are also needed to decommission the UK’s current power stations as they’re switched off in the next 15 years. As with most engineering sectors, the nuclear industry is facing a skills shortage as employees retire and too few new recruits join the industry.
To inform young people about the range of opportunities in the sector and to meet the increase in demand for STEM skills, the NIA has launched re:generation. Not all roles in the sector require a degree and young people will be able to learn on the job through an apprenticeship as an alternative. A recent study by the Centre for Economics and Business Research estimated that Level 3 apprentices could earn around £150,000 more over their lifetime, compared to earnings for the average graduate.
Keith Parker, Chief Executive, Nuclear Industry Association, said:
“The UK led the way in developing nuclear power and new investment will mean valuable new jobs and skills across our country. But, because no new nuclear power plants have been built in a generation we run the risk of losing the skills needed as the current workforce nears retirement. It’s worrying that young people already studying STEM subjects aren’t considering the industry in order to fill this gap.
“With extensive new build and decommissioning plans in the pipeline we need to encourage as many people as possible into the industry to ensure there are qualified British people ready to do the job. A major nuclear new build programme will lead to substantial industrial and employment benefits – including considerable opportunities for the UK nuclear supply chain and a boost for UK manufacturing and construction.”
Launching re-generation at Sizewell B power station in Suffolk, Keith Parker will tell students:
“There are thousands of opportunities available in the nuclear sector. All roles play a vital part in making sure the UK has a safe and secure, low carbon supply of electricity. With the World Cup in full swing, we need to make sure there’s enough electricity to power the thousands of TVs and kettles which will be on up and down the country, as well as maintain power to vital infrastructure like hospitals, transport and businesses. To do this we need a range of engineers and technical people to work in power stations and across the supply chain.
“And, for you – you’ll earn while you learn and be part of a quality sector. Once qualified, you’ll have a long-term, stable and high quality career, joining the many workers who spend their full career within the industry.”