I have spent the best part of the last decade as CEO of Thomas Thor Associates, a recruitment company whose sole focus is helping people to find job opportunities in the global nuclear industry. My experiences over these years have included literally thousands of conversations with employers and employees in the global nuclear industry, spanning across more than 30 countries. I am writing this article because what I see in the UK now and in the future is something quite special. I would like to share some of the reasons why I feel that now is a great time for a career in the UK nuclear industry:
1. The pipeline of work over the next 25 years and beyond is full
Recent announcements from companies like EDF and Hitachi regarding UK new build programmes are great news for jobs, but they are really just the tip of the iceberg. Other job opportunities exist in decommissioning at sites such as Sellafield and the wave of UK plant decommissioning that will start in the next decade. There are also career opportunities in research, with organisations such as CCFE (Culham Centre for Fusion Energy) at the cutting edge of new technology, and the Regulator (ONR) that oversees the industry. But in addition to all of the above, the volume of career opportunities in supply chain organisations that will make all of these projects possible will be the greatest of all. In summary, the pipeline is full for much longer than our outlook for 25 years.
2. Training and career development support is world class
All you need do is visit the website of any organisation involved in the UK nuclear industry and you will see their dedication to training and the development of employees. In addition to this formal development, the UK nuclear industry is literally teeming with both formal and informal groups of peers from different organisations, cooperating to help each other. There are various skills councils and the National Skills Academy for Nuclear, as well as Women in Nuclear and the Young Generation Network to name just a few. Furthermore, employers actively encourage and facilitate such interaction.
3. Graduate, mid-career or retiring? All three are in a golden era
Let me deal with each career stage in turn:
Graduates – The graduate development programmes across the UK nuclear industry are world class, and the culture of support and mentoring in the industry is an absolute gift to the current generation of graduates. Many people in the industry are getting close to retirement and a primary objective that the retiring generation share is to transfer their skills to the next generation.
Mid-career – Quite simply demand is greater than supply, meaning more job security, as well as a raft of approaching promotion opportunities as the generation above starts to retire.
Retiring – In 2002 there was a big concern in the UK and the US that the wave of approaching retirees would leave the industry decimated. This has not happened. As well as some people choosing to work longer, many others have continued as consultants in delivering projects, overseeing work, training others or acting as advisors. Many people due to retire from the industry will have the choice of working as much or as little as they please as they transition to retirement.
4. There are opportunities to work internationally and advance your career at the same time
The nuclear industry is a truly global one, and the respect that the UK nuclear industry and supply chain has internationally is of a gold standard. It is therefore highly likely over the course of a career that opportunities will arise to live and work abroad, either through a UK employer or directly. As the new wave of nuclear newcomer countries grows, many such interesting opportunities will increase.
5. The integrity and professionalism of your colleagues is second to none
In my humble opinion this is the greatest differentiator between the nuclear industry and all other industries. I have never seen such care and support for colleagues and peers as I have in the nuclear industry. Ultimately, the thing that has most influence on whether someone enjoys going to work or not is their interaction with people during the course of their work.
6. The chance to work with new and cutting edge technologies
Whether it is Generation 4 nuclear reactors, SMRs, Nuclear Fusion, innovative waste treatment techniques, robotics, cyber security, computer modelling or simulator technology, the UK nuclear industry is involved at the cutting edge of new technology development and deployment.
7. You are contributing to carbon free energy or solving the nuclear waste challenge
It is widely accepted that as a global population, we should be working together to reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Supporting the generation of clean electricity is a positive contribution in this respect. It is also of great importance to safely store and dispose of the waste created in the generation of nuclear power, and contributing to this effort would make nuclear power an even more viable and clean option for our future energy needs.
If you have any views or opinions related to this topic then I would be delighted to hear from you. For more information about the work that Thomas Thor Associates does please visit www.thomas-thor.com