Navy tempts nuclear engineers with ?24,000 bonus to keep them from moving to private sector

The UK’s ?Nuclear Industrial Strategy?, formed in 2013, was based on a review undertaken by the government in response to the House of Lords’ 2011 report on the nation?s nuclear R&D capabilities.

That response included a ?Nuclear Industrial Vision Statement? detailing industry?s own ambitions for the UK to become ?once again? a “top table” nuclear nation. It set out a long-term nuclear energy strategy which underlined the role that it could play in Britain?s “energy mix” in 2050 and beyond.

The nuclear industry is set for a global expansion, the government suggested. Around ?930bn investment will go to building new reactors, while ?250bn will be spent on decommissioning those that are to be taken off-line. Added to this is a potential market of extending the life of existing nuclear reactors ? another area of UK experience, according to the government. 

It has set out plans to deliver around 16GW of new nuclear capacity by 2030. This means building at least 12 new nuclear reactors at five sites marked for development: Hinkley Point, Sizewell, Wylfa, Oldbury and Moorside. 

However, skills shortages are projected across the nuclear industry, with officials estimating that total labour demand will rise from 70,000 to 98,000 by 2021.

This statistic, a Financial Times article has revealed, has caused the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to offer its nuclear engineers ?24,000 in order to retain them.

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An inquiry by the Nuclear Energy Skills Alliance claimed ?the potential to lose defence personnel with essential nuclear skills to the civil sector remains a significant threat?.

The MoD has about 20,000 staff involved in engineering for its nuclear submarine programmes, the Financial Times said. Many work on the government?s Trident replacement programme ? which has seen investment of about ?38bn. The biggest elements of the programme include “replacements for the Vanguard-class nuclear submarine, as well as strategic weapons systems and their supporting infrastructure”, the article noted. 

Jean Llewellyn, chief executive of the National Skills Academy for Nuclear, suggested that the MoD was worried it would loose significant skills because there would be other attractive options. 

“A few years ago, they wouldn?t have had that issue,” Llewellyn said. “But with this surge in the civil programme, the MoD has realised that it really needs to look at addressing the situation and retaining its staff.?

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