Nuclear Skills Strategy Group

Nuclear Workforce Assessment

Labour Market Information

The NSSG LMI Group co-ordinates the production of Labour Market Information (LMI) to inform the decisions of the Nuclear Skills Strategy Group and its supporting sub-groups.

Its responsibilities include

  1. Production of the Nuclear Workforce Assessment report, for consultation and endorsement by the NSSG
  2. Production of other LMI reports as directed by the NSSG, including for example regional, sub-sectoral and thematic reports
  3. Gathering and sharing information on current and future employment patterns in the sector, to inform the analysis of the demand for skilled employees
  4. Gathering and sharing information on the potential supply of suitably skilled people to the nuclear sector, including the education and training “pipeline” and potential flows from related sectors

Key Deliverables/Outputs

  1. Annual Nuclear Workforce Assessment Report
  2. Other Labour Market Intelligence reports as determined by the Nuclear Skills Programme Delivery Board

About the 2019 Nuclear Workforce Assessment

The Nuclear Skills Strategy Group’s (NSSG) 2019 Nuclear Workforce Assessment (NWA), the nuclear sector’s annual forecast of skills supply and demand across the sector through to 2030 and beyond.

Thanks to the data supplied by NSSG members it provides the sector with the evidence it needs to develop the key skills interventions designed to deliver the ambitious targets set out in the People element of the Nuclear Sector Deal. It embraces the entirety of the sector including new build, operations, decommissioning, research and defence activities.

 Since the previous NWA there has been significant progress in the Nuclear New Build (NNB) arena.  However, the findings also reflect that fact that there is currently less clarity on some of the large-scale Nuclear New Build projects featured in the previous Nuclear Workforce Assessment (NWA).1 The report therefore takes a different approach to previous Assessments and models two different nuclear energy output scenarios to consider the impact on future skills needs.

The data collected supports the NSSG’s Strategic Plan, and also supports employer decisions around investment in training and apprenticeships, as well as education providers to plan and build capacity and capability where it is needed.

The data also supports government in development of skills policy and Industrial Strategy, underpinning decisions around strategic interventions and investment. It supports NSSG in ensuring the nuclear sector has a world class and diverse talent base, to understand where it needs to close skills gaps, particularly in areas such as skills needed to deploy new types of technology in the UK. And it support efforts to ensure private and public sectors have interchangeable workforces, where appropriate.

 About the NWA and the changing nuclear landscape

 This latest NSSG NWA is supported by the NSSG members and key partners. They see this clear ownership, alongside their own contribution of refreshed data, as being critical to improving understanding of sector skills requirements. Since the previous NWA there has been significant progress in the NNB arena.  J0 – the concrete pour for the nuclear island at EDF’s Hinkley Point C – was undertaken ahead of schedule, while Sizewell C in Suffolk completed the fourth stage of its consultation. The China General Nuclear Power (CGN) and EDF Energy Bradwell B new build development in Essex, which was not featured in the previous NWA, and which is still subject to investigative works, is now a firm feature of this updated report. 

 In addition to multi GWe scale plants, it is now recognised that Small Modular Reactors (SMR) could be a solution to meeting our low carbon energy needs. Also funded feasibility studies for up to 8 Gen IV designs have been set in progress. This is alongside a £20 million Government funding for development of Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing. Furthermore, the UK will accelerate efforts to realise fusion energy through a £222 million Government investment in a visionary fusion reactor programme, known as STEP (Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production). However, the cancellation of the NuGeneration project in Cumbria, and the suspension of the Horizon NNB project on Anglesey has also led to some uncertainty which is reflected in this report.

Key NWA findings

1. Overall Workforce demand

 The overall forecast demand, is based on 2 scenarios; to meet both replacement demand and expansion from new projects, an inflow of new workers is required of approximately:

  • 3200 a year for Scenario 1 in the period to 2025
  • 4800 a year for Scenario 2 in the period to 2025

Recruitment to meet demand varies with both time and the occupations required to deliver the planned activities. Business and Project Management occur earlier in the activity cycle, while Engineering and Trades increase in line with the peak in construction. 

The report shows that today’s nuclear workforce is dispersed across sites around the UK, but with a heavy concentration in the Northwest of England. Construction of Hinkley Point C, Sizewell C, and Bradwell B will cause further growth, initially in the Southwest of England (2020) and later in the Southeast (2027)

2. Meeting the demand

This latest NWA confirms a maturing nuclear workforce; overall one fifth of the workforce is 55 or older.

Female participation in the workforce is 20% and women are under-represented in STEM roles.

Trainees represent an important opportunity to increase the participation of women; the female trainee participation rate is currently 24% and highest among Civil apprentices at 30%. 

Recruitment into the sector includes both experienced workers from inside and outside of the nuclear industry, and apprentices and graduates beginning careers in the industry.

Of the three quarters of experienced recruits in the civil sector who had transferred from similar occupations, 60% were from outside of the nuclear industry.

Of the 25% who were trainees, two thirds were apprentices and the remainder graduates.

3. Meeting the diversity target

The NWA report shows that meeting the Nuclear Sector Deal target of a 40% female workforce by 2030 against an overall attrition rate of 8% (for example through retirement) and no net expansion, recruitment of at least 50% women is required, averaged over the next decade or so.

Female participation falls as job skill levels increase, particularly above level 5. It is clear that equality of opportunity requires progression to higher levels to be accessible to all, and that career breaks don’t unnecessarily restrict advancement.

4. Fragile Skills

An increased demand for skills can normally be met by their availability in the employment market.  Where the supply against a particular demand is more challenging, these are labelled ‘fragile skills’.  There has been no dramatic change in these type of skills, and they continue to include:

  • Safety Case Preparation
  • Control and Instrumentation
  • Reactor Operation
  • Site Inspectors
  • Project Planning and Control
  • Commissioning Engineers
  • Electrical Engineers
  • Emergency Planners
  • Quality Assurance staff
  • Chemists/Physicists
  • Steel Fixers
  • Concreters
  • Civil Engineering Operatives
  • Scaffolders

The full report can be found here.

A summary report can be found here.