A message from Brad Myers, Director of Technical Services for BCP:
Ahhh… the nuclear renaissance! Over the last several years we have been hearing more and more about the “nuclear renaissance”. These discussions have centered around the need for base load power, “global warming” and the effects of coal fired power plants on the environment. However, the possibility of a “new” nuclear power plant construction project seemed more like a dream than a reality. Well, with all the recent activity in Georgia and Texas, the dream is quickly proving to be reality. New construction is beginning!
Now, the renaissance discussion is real. Plants will be built…..but by whom? Yes, EPC contracts have been issued and designs are being finalized by the reactor suppliers. All great news. But where will the human resources come from? It is estimated that a minimum of 2,000 workers are needed to construct, test and initiate operation of a new nuclear facility. Staffing these projects with experienced nuclear power workers will present a serious challenge for the stakeholders.
Existing operating plants are getting their licenses extended and nuclear science is becoming more and more important in medicine and even in homeland security. With new plant license applications, operating plant license extension applications and normal regulatory activities, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is also experiencing a need for additional staff. The need for experienced nuclear workers is increasing in huge numbers!
To complicate matters even more, the nuclear renaissance is occurring at a time when many of the industry’s current work-force is ready to retire. Prior to the notion of extending existing plant life from 40 to 60 years, utilities only hired to fill vacancies in staff giving little thought to the future. Therefore, mid-career workers are in shortage as well.
What to do? Beyond hiring new graduates, utilities must develop training programs to develop new workers and to convert workers from other industries that are experiencing a down turn. Retired or honorably discharged service personnel are another resource.
Utilities should develop relationships with nuclear engineering firms, such as BCP, to farm out scopes of work or to address specific short term needs created by capital projects, outages, etc. Supplemental staffing can be provided to backfill vacancies created when their existing staff has been reassigned to a new construction effort or have retired altogether. The value in engaging a firm like BCP is derived from that firm’s ability to react quickly with the correct resources designed to address a customer’s specific need. The customer benefits by getting a task accomplished correctly, on time and within budget.
Where does BCP get the human resources needed to accomplish these tasks? Well, besides utilizing our existing staff, we are able to recruit additional resources by utilizing our contacts and relationships developed over our 28 year history supporting nuclear power projects. We also have a large number of nuclear industry retirees available to support short term requirements or to assist in training new staff.
We are at present investigating ways in which we might assist utilities that have committed to new construction by developing mentorship programs utilizing retirees and other industry experts to help train additional resources to staff their projects.
Staffing challenges abound but through innovative thinking, aggressive recruiting and partnering with firms like BCP to provide outsourced resources and support, utilities will get the necessary resources for success.
If your company has a specific need for which internal resources are not available, please contact us to arrange a discussion of your needs. We will work with you to design a solution to address your specific requirement in the most quick and efficient way possible.