Nuclear Industry and Workforce Group Collaborate on Energy Jobs
Jan. 22, 2014—With the nuclear energy industry expected to hire 20,000 new workers over the next five years, the industry has taken a number of steps to ensure its workforce needs are met.
One is a closer collaboration between the Nuclear Energy Institute and the Center for Energy Workforce Development. A nonprofit consortium, CEWD has since 2006 worked to develop solutions to the coming workforce shortage in the utility industry. With nuclear now among its priorities, CEWD and the nuclear energy industry are cooperating to leverage their respective resources.
For all facets of the energy industry, the first step in a workforce strategy is the same—career awareness.
“The most important thing is to get the word out about what our jobs are,” CEWD Director Ann Randazzo said. “First, you get their attention that this is a great industry to work in and then you can get more specific.”
One of CEWD’s strengths is its expertise in reaching out to a range of populations and understanding their diverse job needs.
The center’s Get Into Energy website aims to inform different audiences about the array of careers available throughout the energy sector—everything from engineers to line workers and technicians. The site provides information for middle and high school students who may want to learn about the possibilities of a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education. Get Into Energy also extolls the benefits of energy-sector careers to adults interested in making career transitions and to women at all levels.
Another CEWD project, Troops to Energy Jobs, encourages veterans to seek out highly skilled careers in the energy industry and assists with translating their military training into industry-specific credentials. Such efforts complement the nuclear industry’s own outreach to veterans, such as the 2012 agreement between the industry and the U.S. Navy’s Nuclear Propulsion Program to establish a program to help Navy veterans transition into civilian jobs.
CEWD also works with educational institutions to ensure that their graduates have the right credentials and knowledge to seamlessly enter the workforce and, significantly, to ensure that the supply of credentialed graduates and the demand for employees are balanced in a given region. A separate but related activity is the Nuclear Uniform Curriculum Program, an industry-led partnership with community colleges that provides a standardized and transportable training program that can make graduates eligible for employment in the nuclear energy industry nationwide.
Randazzo also mentioned the importance of sharing the results of job demand surveys distributed by NEI and CEWD.
“By working together, we’re able to provide better information to members,” she said. “They’re all the same companies—when you talk about the members of NEI, you’re talking about members of CEWD, if you’re talking about utilities.”
CEWD also works with state consortia of energy companies to understand job demand, Randazzo said. This is especially important in states like Georgia and South Carolina where nuclear energy facilities are being built and there is an ongoing demand for construction jobs.
Randazzo compares the issue of workforce supply and demand to a puzzle: “You just need to figure it out for your state or for your company.”