U.K. to add 40k nuclear workers

April 1, 2024, 3:00PMNuclear News

Rishi Sunak, U.K. prime minister, announced plans this week to boost Britain’s nuclear workforce by 40,000 to support submarine building and developing other aspects of the nuclear energy industry.

“In a more dangerous and contested world, the United Kingdom’s continuous at-sea nuclear deterrent is more vital than ever,” Sunak said in a statement. “Today we usher in the next generation of our nuclear enterprise, which will keep us safe, keep our energy secure, and keep our bills down for good.”

More information about the government’s plans are laid out in the Defence Nuclear Enterprise Command policy paper.

A closer look: Sunak announced the initiative last week during a visit to Barrow-in-Furness, the northeast English town that is home to the nation’s submarine program.

Through a public-private partnership with industry leaders—BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce, Électricité de France, and Babcock International Group—to invest as least £763 million (about $965 million) by 2030 to support the growth in skills, jobs, and education needed in the nuclear sector. The plan is to double the number of nuclear apprentices and graduates and quadruple the number of Ph.D.s in the areas of specialist science and nuclear fission.

Sunak declared a “national endeavor” to secure the future of Britain’s defense and civil nuclear industry. Along with this announcement, the U.K. leader pledged more than £200 million (nearly $253 million) over the next decade to support Barrow as the epicenter of the nation’s nuclear submarine building.

Energy component: Sunak doubled down on Britain’s nuclear power generation plans, too, and cited investments being made to support the country’s Energy Security Plan.

The prime minister also pointed to collaborative work with industry partners to “safeguard our supply chains for the future.” The ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine has raised concerns about accessing Russia’s supply of uranium.

Quotable: “This is a very welcome investment, which will help ensure we have enough people with the right skills to ramp up nuclear capacity to the levels needed for energy security. It is a great opportunity for the government and industry to work together to attract workers into an exciting and cutting-edge sector that will play a vital role in the U.K.’s journey to net zero,” said Tom Greatrex, chief executive of the Nuclear Industry Association.

“Meeting the U.K.’s ambitious nuclear targets will require a huge ramp up in all parts of the workforce, from engineering to construction, so it is important we attract and train the next generation of nuclear workers so that we keep pace with other countries that are doing the same," he added. "The industry, which is match-funding the government’s investment, stands ready to do all it can to support in that endeavor.”

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