The first Global Energy Talent Index (GETI), the world’s largest energy recruitment and employment trends report, was released on 23 March by Airswift. “It’s absolutely essential that hiring managers and employees are on the same page if the energy industry is to continue attracting and retaining the talent it needs for a successful future,” said Airswift CEO Janette Marx. “But at the moment there’s a bit of a mismatch – and not just about the prospect of a pay rise. For instance, a quarter of hiring managers across the sector think that the corporate brand is the most important factor in attracting jobseekers, when in fact the workforce values salary, location and professional development most highly.” The report includes specific insights into the state of talent within the oil and gas, renewables, power, nuclear and petrochemicals sectors.

Hannah Peet, Managing Director at Energy Jobline, said hiring managers in the nuclear industry “may be underestimating the reputation of their own sector, which has made great efforts since Fukushima to improve its safety and environmental record”. She added that managers should stress the ethical benefits of working in nuclear. “Younger workers in particular are concerned about climate change and while nuclear energy generation creates radioactive waste, these firms have an advantage over much of the energy industry in that they don’t emit carbon.”

The report said the  nuclear industry is facing some significant human resources challenges, but  the sector can still compete for talent. “It has an experienced cadre of managers and technicians, but needs to recruit replacement expertise as its existing specialists approach retirement age.” It noted:

  • The nuclear industry may have to increase wages to keep its staff, especially in countries expanding nuclear initiatives.
  • The industry has an ageing workforce and needs to recruit new professionals. 
  • It should offer strong health and retirement benefits packages to attract new staff.
  • The industry outside North America has a strong expatriot component, making it easier to recruit staff from abroad.
  • Professionals anticipate salary increases going forward.

In 2015, there were 51,537 people employed in USA nuclear power generation, and around 125,000 in the French nuclear power sector. UK nuclear generation and related construction in 2014 employed 15,500 people full time. The data highlights that more than half (54%) of the nuclear workforce is over 45 years old; graduate and entry level professionals make up only 5% of the global nuclear workforce; and nine out of 10 nuclear sector workers are male.

In terms of nationality, Americans topped the list (36%), followed by British (30%) and Romanian (5%). Permanent positions make up 73% of the nuclear industry and is the highest representation across all energy sectors.

Peet said that, while the nuclear sector’s pay is not as high as competing energy sectors, it offers more stable employment, compared with the oil and gas industry. “Nuclear energy is not a commodity sold on global markets, so job security is far more solid than in the fossil fuel sector. For some energy professionals, especially ones approaching middle age, this could be an attractive selling point when nuclear employers are hiring staff.