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Talent Shortage Threatens Europe’s Nuclear Renaissance

As many countries in Europe look to boost their nuclear power capacities and build more reactors, companies face a workforce challenge as many of the skilled force are retiring while younger generations choose energy jobs in solar and wind.  

European countries and companies planning major expansion in nuclear fleets are struggling to fill in thousands of skilled engineering jobs that would support the construction of nuclear reactors, which take years to complete.

Companies in France are hiring back retirees and are collaborating with colleges and universities to promote jobs in the nuclear power sector, Bloomberg reports.

Many Western countries have doubled down on nuclear power since the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the energy crisis. Since the start of the war and an energy-market-disrupting series of Western sanctions, nuclear power has regained much support in Europe as a critical aspect of reaching net zero by 2050.

Many countries in the West, with the notable exception of Germany, have recognized that nuclear power generation would help them achieve net-zero emission goals. France, the UK, and Sweden are some of the countries planning to build more reactors over the next two decades to boost the share of zero-emission power sources as the UK and the EU have set goals to become net-zero economies by 2050.

“We’ll need trained resources to get projects off the ground. We don’t have much time to react,” Philippe Lanoir, president for industry and energy at the Syntec-Ingenierie business federation in France, told Bloomberg.

France’s nuclear power giant EDF expects to recruit around 4,500 employees in permanent roles in the nuclear power industry in France in 2024 alone. But the French Nuclear Industry Association, GIFEN, says that France would need about 10,000 hires per year by 2033 to fill the talent gap.

In the UK, a National Nuclear Strategic Plan for Skills was launched in May, underpinning the goal of doubling the number of new apprenticeships by 2026 and recruiting 40,000 new jobs by 2030 – double the current hiring rate for the sector.

“We are delivering the biggest expansion to nuclear power in 70 years and need a homegrown pool of talent that will fuel our nuclear ambitions,” said Amanda Solloway, Minister for Affordability and Skills at the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero.

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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