Launch of National Nuclear Skills Strategic Plan

The National Skills Academy for Nuclear (NSAN) has welcomed the launch of the Nuclear Skills Strategic Plan today by the Nuclear Skills Strategy Group (NSSG).

The Plan will identify the strategic priorities required to ensure UK nuclear employers, including the supply chain, can recruit skilled people at the required rate to meet the sector’s ambitious forward programme.  The Strategic Plan was formally launched today at Nuclear 2016, the Nuclear Industry Association’s (NIA) Annual Conference in London.

The NSSG is the industry-led strategic group, comprising employers, government and trade unions representing both the civil and defence sectors. The new Strategic Plan brings industry and government together, to apply national leadership to a strategic sector of the economy as it embarks upon its much anticipated renaissance.  The Plan sets out 19 strategic actions, which will subsequently be turned into a detailed action plan. These range from group training arrangements for apprentices and new bursary schemes through to a clear national curriculum and regional skills initiatives. All of this will be underpinned by an agreed timeline of nuclear sector activities and regularly refreshed labour market information on supply and demand.

As a well-established employer-led organisation, NSAN will have a fundamental role in addressing the priorities highlighted in the Plan.  With a decade of experience at the forefront of skills development for the nuclear industry, NSAN is uniquely placed to help the sector meet the skills demands of the planned nuclear programme.

Dr Fiona Rayment, Director for Fuel Cycle Solutions NNL and Chair of the NSSG said: “for the first time in decades, the UK is set to build a new fleet of power stations, as part of its continued transition to a low-carbon economy. This means that we will need increased numbers of highly skilled people to build and operate the new fleet, as well as a skilled workforce to continue to run the existing stations, decommission the older ones, safely process nuclear waste and maintain the nuclear defence programme.”

“By working in collaboration with government, skills bodies, supporting organisations and employers, the NSSG is confident that the actions as set out will address the underlying issues and allow the sector to gear up for the future, supported by the necessary infrastructure, processes and systems to meet its skills challenge.”

Fiona added: “As part of our engagement with the Government, the NSSG is also set to play a prime role on nuclear skills thought leadership, supporting the Government’s developing Industrial Strategy. As the thinking on the Industrial Strategy develops, the NSSG’s Plan will be modified to take into account any new elements of Government thinking.”

The Strategic Plan is a successor document to the Government’s Sustaining Our Nuclear Skills, a skills strategy that provided the opportunity to assess the current skills provision across the sector and highlight the progress made. However, the report also made clear the challenges we still face in realising that vision, and threw down something of a gauntlet to industry and partners in education and skills. This new Strategic Plan provides the actions and interventions necessary to address these challenges and is aimed at achieving the vision and objectives set out in the Government paper.

The Nuclear Workforce Assessment shows that construction of five sites for 16 GWe new generation capacity, has a significant impact on total nuclear workforce demand, causing it to rise from 78,000 Full Time Equivalents (FTEs) in 2015 to 111,000 by 2021. In addition, the new build programme will see the UK move from Magnox gas-cooled graphite moderated reactors and Advanced Cooler Reactors (AGRs) to light water reactors (LWRs). This places even greater demand for new knowledge and understanding right across the sector.

The Plan identifies that the recruitment or transfer of people to meet this demand is not a simple uniform process, when the diversity of skills needed is taken into account. The actions set out consider the skills required to meet the industry’s forward plan, as being in three distinct groups, namely; subject matter experts (a relatively small number of experts with specialist skills which take a long time to acquire), nuclear skills (specialist skills which are only required in the nuclear industry, such as nuclear safety case engineers), and generic skills (ready market skills, principally for the construction activities).

In summary, this Plan presents the strategic actions necessary to satisfy the goals and challenges of the nuclear sector as it embarks on a period of unprecedented growth. The industry is confident that these actions will address the underlying issues and allow employers to recruit at the required rate to meet the forward programme.

Comments on the Plan:

Minister for Energy Baroness Neville-Rolfe said:

 “Nuclear power will play an important role in building a secure, affordable and clean energy system fit for the 21st century.

 “We welcome industry’s proactive approach to skills, coming together through the NSSG, to develop a strategic plan. This can help to ensure an expert , flexible and mobile workforce in the nuclear sector.”

Welsh Government Skills and Science Minister, Julie James said:

“I am delighted to welcome today’s publication of the Nuclear Skills Strategy Group’s Strategic Plan. The nuclear sector is strategically important for Wales, providing low carbon energy for homes and businesses while also offering job opportunities in a highly skilled industry. The Welsh Government is committed to developing a suitably skilled workforce for the nuclear sector, and my officials have already been working closely with industry as this Strategic Plan has been developed. We look forward to continuing to support the work of the Nuclear Skills Strategy Group and its partners to deliver upon the Strategic Plan.”

National Secretary at Prospect, Gill Wood said:

“The TUC has worked with the nuclear industry on producing this Strategic Plan, and we welcome its publication. We have not seen the construction of a nuclear power station in the UK for over 20 years. The new build renaissance, together with an ageing workforce and a projected high demand for both specialist and generic skills across all parts of the nuclear industry, means the sector has to take action on skills now. Indeed the Nuclear Workforce Assessment projections show nuclear workforce demand is forecast to rise from 78,000 full time employees in 2015 to 111,000 by 2021. This Strategy is aimed ensuring fully trained and highly skilled people are available to meet this demand.”


Notes to Editors

About the Strategic Plan

The Plan is underpinned by the following themes, identified by those involved in a wide-ranging consultation, setting the foundations for the actions. 

Key strategic themes

  • Meeting the demand (including attracting and recruiting a diverse range of people into the sector and retaining them with the appropriate level of knowledge transfer in order to minimise the number of fragile skills)
  • Training infrastructure and provision (including enabling the best nuclear training provision in required regions)
  • Training Standards and Qualifications (including an appropriate and consistent approach across the UK)

Enabling themes:

  • A clearly defined and NSSG endorsed skills delivery model (including refining and developing the skills operating model and supporting key groups in the landscape for simplicity, completeness and clarity)
  • An agreed nuclear timeline and clarity of demand requirements (including providing clarity on the current nuclear programmes to enable the industry to develop and deliver against a firm set of requirements)

These themes have been used to develop strategic actions directly aimed at mitigating the risks identified by the industry, to provide the necessary national infrastructure necessary to meet the rise in demand.

The benefits of this approach mean that we will:

  • Ensure that the UK is positioned to deliver the future increase in workload without over reliance on foreign labour
  • Build a nuclear legacy of competent people in areas of nuclear development suitable to meet the local needs into the foreseeable future
  • Enhance long-term careers opportunities for STEM apprentices and graduates
  • Provide the base-load of training requirements to allow confident investment in facilities and training provisions
  • Ensure a more flexible and mobile nuclear workforce
  • Provide opportunities for continued professional development of the existing workforce
  • Ensure the UK has a powerful nuclear skills capability and is able to respond to international opportunities
  • Invest in skills to drive productivity and economic success
  • Facilitate and encourage cross-sector movement between civil and defence and by non-nuclear personnel
  • Support highly skilled individuals in greater job satisfaction, which will improve sector retention
  • Help highly skilled individuals to pass on their knowledge, mentoring the next generation, thus future proofing the sector’s skills and competence base
  • Reduce costs to industry and value to the tax payer associated with the need to train and re-train the workforce

To download the Plan go to

For further information on the plan contact