New UK projects grow nuclear sector workforce by 20 per cent in one year
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A raft of new nuclear projects has resulted in the UK’s nuclear industry employing more people than at any time in the past 20 years, new figures show.
The annual jobs map from the Nuclear Industry Association (NIA) shows that the sector employs 77,413 people across the UK, a 20 per cent year-on-year increase. However, the NIA warns that the UK must train tens of thousands of additional workers to deliver the government’s 24GW nuclear target by 2050.
The first project on course to be completed is the oft-delayed and over-budget Hinkley Point C. The Somerset power station is expected to start generating in 2028 after more than a decade of construction.
It should provide enough electricity to power around six million UK homes as part of plans to decarbonise the grid.
According to the NIA, Hinkley Point C is one of the biggest employers in the sector, with 9,500 people working at the largest construction site in Europe, up from 8,000 in 2022. Over 1,000 apprentices have also been trained on the project to date.
Sizewell C nuclear power plant is expected to begin construction later this year, with the government announcing a further £170m to speed up building works on the upcoming project in July.
The government also launched Great British Nuclear this summer with a remit to fund small modular reactors (SMRs), which will not provide as much energy as the major projects but are faster and cheaper to deploy.
Rolls-Royce has already been developing SMRs in Derby and Warrington, leading to the creation of over 530 jobs, 200 since last year alone.
The NIA report said that 27,024 people were employed in the North West in decommissioning, fuel cycle research and reactor design, a 5 per cent increase on 2022, and remains the sector’s biggest regional workforce. The South West is next with 23,938 workers, a 60 per cent increase on last year’s total of 15,011.
Research from Oxford Economics this year showed that over a third of nuclear jobs in England, and half of nuclear jobs in Scotland, are in the 25 per cent most deprived local authorities.
Tom Greatrex, NIA chief executive, said: “The nuclear industry already sustains tens of thousands of high-skilled, well-paid jobs which make a significant contribution to UK energy security and our net zero future.
“We can have lots more of these jobs and opportunities for the next generation if we get on with committing to new projects, both large and small reactors, for more secure, reliable and home-grown power.”
Nuclear minister Andrew Bowie MP said: “From the government’s backing of new plants at Hinkley and Sizewell, to the launch of Great British Nuclear to spearhead new technologies, the UK is witnessing a nuclear revival.
“These projects will be at the heart of our efforts to deliver clean, reliable and secure homegrown energy sources, boosting our security and cutting our carbon emissions – and all while helping grow the economy and create jobs.”
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