There are numerous roles required to be filled to construct and run a nuclear site. Many of these roles will require various levels of security vetting dependant upon the location of the work and the classification of the site at the time of the works. Vetting will be covered separately in another post; this post will - in Get Into Nuclear style - simplify the array of jobs available by organising them into three categories:
Construction opportunities within the UK Nuclear Industry.
Construction opportunities in the UK nuclear industry have been limited since the completion of the current fleet of nuclear new builds around 20 years ago.
There has and continues to be construction work on the existing sites Nuclear Power Plants (NPP), Decommissioning projects and ongoing Defence work. This however, remains quite a closed arena due to the sensitivity of the work and the licensing of the sites - check out our posts on vetting in the industry and jobs by location to see if there are opportunities local to you.
This is all about the change and at the time of writing the industry is on the cusp of entering an unprecedented era with a peak demand of 17,000 construction workers required on the Nuclear New Builds (NNB) alone*. If is expected that particular demand will be placed on concretors, rebar fixers and scaffolders.
Commissioning opportunities within the UK Nuclear Industry.
Commissioning is a requirement of all nuclear licence sites as part of Licence Conditions (LC's) set out by the Office for Nuclear Regulators (ONR). Commissioning is undertaken in a phased approach with approval of the previous phase before commencing work on the next phase. The aim of commissioning is to verify the the plant performs in the way it expected of the designer and aligns with the assumptions made in the safety case.
As an example of the work available a recent role description for the commissioning engineer on an existing nuclear licence site lists the main purpose of the role as:
A Member of a multi-disciplined team to carry out testing activities in a safe and effective manner.
Has the ability to lead a designated area, system or discipline.
To work with and provide support to commissioning colleagues and personnel involved in other disciplines
To achieve accurate recording of test results in an auditable manner to satisfy internal and external auditors.
To support the Commissioning Team Leader / Commissioning Manager.
To comply with the Commissioning Framework & Supporting Procedures.
To comply with the client practices and local arrangements.
Operator opportunities within the UK Nuclear Industry.
The re are currently 15 nuclear reactors generating electricity in the UK and numerous more decommissioning and defence site each with a number of operators undertaking numerous of operations on a daily basis.
You could be forgiven for thinking that these roles are currently filled and with the nuclear new builds (NNB's) replacing the existing fleet there is no need for further operators in the UK Nuclear Industry. To some certain extent you are correct in that the total number of operators is not set to increase exponentially over the coming years and with operations of the first NNB being expected in 2023 it is potentially quite a while before new operators are needed.
The opportunity lies in the current demographic and skill set of the current workforce - especially on the nuclear power plants (NPP's). It is no secret that the UK Nuclear Industry has an ageing workforce and there are many opportunities to be had as this workforce starts to retire. This is equally compounded by the fact that all of the current NNP's, bar one, are AGRs. Nuclear technology has moved on and the new reactors will be a mix of EPR, AP1000, ABWR and CPR meaning that the current nuclear operators will not necessarily but in a better position to secure future roles that newcomers to the industry.