Nuclear jobs primed for growth with green investment, industry map shows

Photo by Anamul Rezwan:

Nuclear industry employment has grown solidly in 2021, according to the Nuclear Industry Association’s annual Jobs Map.

The civil nuclear sector employs 61,371 people across the UK, an increase of over 1,700 compared to 2020.

However, according to the Nuclear Industry Association (NIA), trade association for the civil nuclear industry in the UK, urgent investment is needed to ‘sustain that trend and ensure that nationally critical skills are not lost as the existing nuclear fleet retires.’

Tom Greatrex, Chief Executive of the NIA, commented on the announcement: “The nuclear industry stands alone in sustaining tens of thousands of high-skilled, well-paid jobs in zero emissions power across the country, making a significant contribution to the UK’s net zero future.

“We can have more of these jobs and these opportunities for the next generation of young people if we get a new financing model that will enable building new low carbon power stations.

“The Government’s ten point plan confirms building back greener means new nuclear as part of the net zero future.”

Out of the UK’s seven generating nuclear power stations, Hunterston B, Hinkley Point B, Heysham I and Hartlepool nuclear power stations are all scheduled to retire by the end of March 2024, representing more than 4 GW of nominal generating capacity.

Meanwhile, the Hunterston and Hinkley Point B will be in defuelling by mid-2022.

Of the existing fleet, only the Pressurised Water Reactor at Sizewell B, with 1.2 GW of capacity, is scheduled to be operational after 2030.

According to the map, more than 24,000 people employed in the North West in decommissioning, fuel cycle research, reactor design and other disciplines.

In the South West, the sector employs over 12,900 people, with £3.2 billion already spent across the region from the Hinkley Point C project, reported to be more than twice the initial target of £1.5 billion set at the project’s outset.

Sue Ferns, Prospect Senior Deputy General Secretary, added: “These figures show that the nuclear industry is pivotal to the government’s central missions, helping to decarbonise the economy and ‘levelling up’ the regions of the UK by providing tens of thousands of good quality green jobs.

“However, the looming ‘nuclear gap’ caused by delays in the new build programme puts these jobs and skills at risk. We need decisive action from the government now, starting with bringing forward the legislation on the funding model for new nuclear, so that we can secure both our clean energy future and the decent employment that comes with it.”

The full Jobs Map 2021 is available on the NIA website.