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The 5 Elements Of The Nuclear Sector Deal

The Nuclear Sector Deal was published in June 2018 and is all about the government working with industry to make the change necessary for the nuclear industry to thrive, both now and in the future. This includes investing in people, which is what Get Into Nuclear, and our readers are interested in.

The Nuclear Sector Deal considers five key areas:

  • Delivering a skills strategic plan– undertaking a gap analysis of what the nuclear industry has, what is needed and what needs to be done to plug any gaps.

  • Maintain SME’s– it is acknowledged that a Subject Matter Expert (SME) pipeline for talent is critical. The Nuclear Sector Deal aims to bring in more PhD’s. Not just through the traditional route but also via the Apprenticeship route. This would allow workers the chance to work at, amongst others, Horizon, EDF Energy, Sellafield, and NNL, allowing them to get a job with access to money and experience whilst attaining a PhD.

  • Sector Jumping– attracting people from outside of the sector to the nuclear industry; this is called “Sector Jumping”. This gives access to great talent who bring with them an experience of how other industries go about things.

  • Local Apprenticeships– enabling employers to maximise the use of the Apprenticeship Levy to enable the supply chain to increase the number of apprentices at a local level and ahead of demand.

  • STEM– enabling people and youngsters to see how great it would be to work in STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Maths) within the nuclear industry. This is a whole education piece for youngsters to let them see the role models that they are likely to have going forward.

“To enable people who are looking for jobs going forward who want to work in our sector. Encouraging young people to come in, I think, is one of the key things that we have to do.”[i] Fiona Rayment, Chair NSSG.

"NSAN is looking forward to working with industry in supporting the implementation of the sector deal and ensuring that the sector has a skilled and diverse workforce to take the nuclear programme forwards."[ii] Jo Tipa, Managing Director NSAN

Nuclear Sector Deal

What is the Nuclear Sector Deal?

The Nuclear Sector Deal builds on the Nuclear Industry Council Proposals to Government for a Sector Deal[iii]. The NSD was written by the Nuclear Industry Association (NIA) on behalf of the Nuclear Industry Council (NIC) lead by Lord Hutton and published in December 2017. This proposal was aimed at “presenting a series of actions for industry, with government involvement, across key activity areas for our industry” and to provide “an exciting agenda, and a series of opportunities which can best be realised with a shared determination and commitment from both industry and government”.

The Nuclear Sector Deal[iv] outlines the NIC aims in helping the UK Nuclear Industry remain competitive against other low-carbon technologies. This will ensure that nuclear remains a viable component of the UK’s energy mix going forward in support of the governments Clean Growth Strategy. This is to be successful by five key commitments:

  1. Ideas – government support to nuclear R&D activities

  2. People – government support to the development of the required pipeline of skills

  3. Infrastructure – government to ensure savings in the decommissioning programme

  4. Business Environment – government to support UK business in building capabilities

  5. Places – government to consider the creation of clusters of nuclear expertise


New approaches to manufacturing and construction will reduce costs associated with the Nuclear New Build (NNB) work programme. Additional support to developing new nuclear technologies will provide opportunities to improve productivity and skills throughout the UK. Measures to provide greater industry engagement will drive the decommissioning costs down, providing value for the taxpayer. These are all claims of the Nuclear Sector Deal.

The key policies include:


  • The Sector Deal sets out how the nuclear sector will be part of this new wave of innovation with a new framework of £56m to support the development and deployment of small modular reactors (SMRs) and the innovative technologies that support them.

  • Additionally, £86 million has already been identified to create a new National Fusion Technology Platform at Culham in Oxfordshire and

  • £40 million to develop a thermal-hydraulics facility in the north of Wales as part of the Nuclear Innovation Programme.

  • Organisations such as NNL will continue to receive investments to support specialist nuclear R&D infrastructure.

  • Increase the rate of R&D tax credit to 12%


  • The Sector Deal commits to “maximising the use of the Apprenticeship Levy to deliver additional apprenticeship starts in the supply chain.”

  • It has also committed to a target of 50% female participation in apprenticeships by 2021.

  • “Despite its complexities, the nuclear industry will do more to attract talent from other sectors…the government will provide dedicated career champions to work with the sector to understand the unique challenges of safety and security in nuclear to ensure the sector can deliver work experience placements”.

  • The government recognises and will continue to support the Nuclear Skills Strategy Group (NSSG) as the lead on skills for the sector.


  • The Nuclear Sector Deal focuses on ambitious cost reductions across new nuclear (30% saving) and waste and decommissioning (20 % saving) to ensure the nuclear sector remains competitive with other low-carbon generation technologies.

  • Continue to work with UK nuclear fuel industry to ensure continued commercial operation of these facilities to deliver future energy security.

Business environment

  • Launch and roll-out Sector Deals – This Nuclear Sector Deal

  • Funds programme to demonstrate how advanced manufacturing and construction can reduce costs in a range of products and services across the nuclear industry

  • Develop a coordinated global campaign for promoting the UK’s nuclear expertise overseas

  • The government and industry will explore co-funding a £30 million national supply chain and productivity improvement programme to improve the UK nuclear supply chain's productivity and competitiveness, reduce barriers to entry, and encourage disruptive, innovative businesses and SMEs to enter the sector.


  • The Sector Deal seeks to build on the sector's existing regional strength by exploring how the advanced manufacturing programme could unlock investment and increase opportunities for local suppliers.

Why is the Nuclear Sector Deal needed?

The Civil UK Nuclear Industry has a long and proud history since opening the world’s first nuclear in 1956 and has continued to provide the country with a low-carbon energy source up until the present day. The UK also remains one of only a few countries “covering the full life cycle of fuel production, generation, decommissioning, waste management and research. The industry consists of major engineering companies supported by a strong supply chain and skills network, a vibrant research capability and a regulatory framework that is respected across the world.”

The Nuclear Sector Deal recognises the opportunities associated with building on this recorded meeting the objectives set out in the UK’s Industrial Strategy[v] and Clean Growth Challenge[vi]. This ultimately brings about many economic growth opportunities, sustainable jobs, international collaboration, UK export and social-economic factors. However, it does bring its challenges none less significant than having the workforce undertake the work.

What does the Nuclear Sector Deal mean to me?

“The Nuclear Skills Strategy Group’s (NSSG) Strategic Plan highlights the importance of developing the right skills in the right place through a partnership between the government and industry.”

It is expected that by 2021 the UK will need more than 100,000 workers in the nuclear civil and defence sectors. This is up from 87,000, covering generic skills, nuclear skills and Subject Matter Expert (SME) skills. Considering the sector's attrition rate, there is a requirement for around 7,000 entrants each year to join the sector.

NSAN and the Nuclear Sector Deal

To go hand-in-hand with the key area of investment in People is the Nation Skills Academy for Nuclear (NSAN) who have the mission “To improve the performance of companies in the nuclear industry through collaboration and action on skills[vii].” NSAN is a collaborative skills forum for the nuclear industry, working with many companies and training providers from across the nuclear industry to provide support and solutions to the skills issues experienced by those committed to the successful delivery of the planned nuclear programme UK.

The NSAN website supports both organisations, large and small, and candidates interested in Sector Jumping. What this means to you is… this is potentially an opportunity of a lifetime for you to join the most exciting industry in the world right now.

The Nuclear Sector Deal breaks down the activities that will need to be undertaken to meet the five key people areas. Below is a summary of those and how they apply to you:

Enhanced skills leadership

The government and the sector will support the activities of the NSSG in the delivery of its Nuclear Skills Strategic Plan[viii]. The plan includes a sectoral diversity strategy that commits the sector to meet its skills requirements by drawing from a more diverse talent pool. The government and the sector have agreed that, via the NSSG, they will ensure the new Skills Advisory Panels’ national framework for analysing this data aligns with the annual Nuclear Workforce Assessment[ix] (NWA) 2017.

This is supported by the NSAN website, which provides numerous resources for training and learning and has the Nuclear Skills Passport that provides companies and people with the opportunity to demonstrate their SQEP (Suitably Qualified Experienced Personnel).

A key section of the NWA is The Skills Pyramid which emphasis a key point; “a large section of the workforce transfers from outside of the nuclear sector provides a viable supply route”. This is because 81% of the required resources are deemed “generic skills” that are “likely to be found outside of the nuclear industry”.

Local apprenticeships

The sector will maximise the use of the Apprenticeship Levy to enable the supply chain to increase the number of apprentices at a local level and ahead of demand. This could potentially deliver additional apprenticeship beyond the 2,000 already planned and target 50% female participation by 2021.

Again, the NSAN website provides up-to-date information and advice on the apprenticeship reforms for both organisations and people. This opens a world of opportunities for anyone interested in an apprenticeship. Many of these will be remote locations which will create multiple social-economic benefits also.

Staying at the cutting edge

The government and the sector recognise that more needs to be done to replace Subject Matter Experts (SME), who will be lost as the older generation of nuclear scientists and engineers retire. The government will work with the sector to explore options to increase nuclear-related PhDs by looking at routes to provide additional investment.

There is no doubt that this opportunity will be very attractive to some of the UK's great minds. The nuclear industry is one of the most complex, interesting and cutting edges in the world. These are called “Nuclear Trailblazers” by the NSAN, where information can be found if you would like to contact one of their Operations Managers.

Sector transferability

Despite the complexities and challenges in nuclear, there are many synergies with other sectors and simplifying the process to bring in these skills is essential to support the future ambitions of the nuclear industry. The government will work with the sector to enable bespoke programmes (such as the NSAN Nuclear Skills Passport) that support the transitioning and transfer of capability between civil and defence. The sector aims to establish a pilot scheme that enables the transfer of skills between sectors, focused initially on oil and gas, the armed forces and manufacturing.

Watch this space; there will be many initiatives aimed at attracting talent from other sectors. There are huge opportunities for people that fit the bill.

Exciting the next generation about nuclear

The importance of employer engagement with young people through careers and education was set out in the government’s Post-16 Skills Plan[x], making the most of everyone’s skills and talents. The sector (civil and defence) is committed to engaging with young people despite the challenges that nuclear faces in terms of safety and security regulation.

Where does Get Into Nuclear fit in?

Get Into Nuclear was established with one aim in mind, to attract new talent into the UK Nuclear Industry. This is being done in several ways.

Get Into Nuclear and The Nuclear Sector Deal

Our website and our social media channels were created by workers in the industry who have found it increasingly frustrating nuclear career advice is spread across the internet, making it difficult to find, difficult to navigate and not very engaging.

Now things have moved on since we created the site 4 years ago, and the Nuclear Sector Deal is one huge step in the right direction, particularly with the support of the NSSG, and NSAN.

Get Into Nuclear remains uniquely positioned in that we support the nuclear industry employers, in attracting top talent from outside of the sector. We now have a large number of subscribers and members that are all interested in joining the nuclear industry from other sectors.

An individual looking to get into nuclear...

Head on over to our Career Hub, research how to Find A Job In Nuclear and find out more about training providers and course to Upskill yourself.

A business or agency looking to get into nuclear...

A nuclear employer looking to attract new, diverse talent...

Have a look at what we bring and why you should work with us. The NSD calls for making nuclear more accessible, raising the profile of the industry, attracting new talent and supply chain capability. We have a partner network to help you to do just that.



The Nuclear Sector Deal is such a step forward for the industry. The five key commitments will provide many opportunities across the industry. The “People” commitment with the support of the NSSG is certain to provide opportunities for new roles in the nuclear industry for those currently working in other sectors. has been set up to support you throughout the process. Have a look around the site, and if you like what you see subscribe to our mailing list. We will provide you with all that you need to get into nuclear.