As of this year, NRL have been working in the nuclear industry for over four decades, and over that time the sector has undergone significant changes, both in terms of technological advancements and recruitment of personnel. These changes have prompted businesses to adapt their strategies in order to remain competitive.
In the beginning
The early days of the nuclear industry were marked by rapid growth in power demand, leading to a need for more electricity production capacity than could be achieved using conventional technology such as coal-fired generation. As a result of this increased demand, there were significant efforts made in developing alternative energy sources such as hydroelectricity and wind power; however back then these technologies did not yet have the capacity or flexibility to meet increasing requirements consistently.
It quickly became apparent that there was only one solution capable of meeting the increasing electricity demands – nuclear power plants.
Advancements of the decades
The nuclear sector is no stranger to innovation, and over our 40 years of working in it we’ve seen the rise of new technologies and services which have served to improve efficiency, output and safety.
One of the most significant technological advancements has been the development of advanced reactor designs. Modern designs utilise passive safety systems that eliminate the need for active controls and external power sources to ensure safety, making them more reliable than those used previously. Furthermore, advanced designs can produce energy more efficiently, with some having the potential to consume nuclear waste as fuel, addressing one of the previous main criticisms of nuclear power.
Digitalisation has also had a huge impact, with advancements in digital technology making it possible to model and simulate nuclear reactors more accurately, allowing operators to identify potential safety issues and improve performance. Additionally, digitalisation has allowed for improved monitoring and control of nuclear facilities, further enhancing safety and productivity.
Nuclear’s role in net zero
In addition to these technological advances, there has also been an increased interest in nuclear power by governments around the world. This is due largely to its potential as an effective tool for combating climate change - ensuring security of supply at affordable prices, while meeting growing demand for electricity without exacerbating local air pollution levels or increasing CO2 emissions.
Nuclear power plants don't emit carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides or sulphur oxides - the three main gases responsible for global warming. In fact, they're one of the few sources of electricity that doesn't release any greenhouse gas emissions at all.
The evolving recruitment landscape
The recruitment of nuclear personnel has also undergone significant changes over the past four decades. As the industry has matured, the demand for highly skilled and specialised professionals has increased. The industry has always attracted a wide variety of professionals including engineers, scientists and technicians, and it has also developed a reputation as a great career path for ex-military personnel. It continues to welcome those who are interested in an exciting new career, with many companies bringing individuals with transferable skills into the fold and providing them with the supplemental training required to allow them to flourish in the sector.
Furthermore, the nuclear industry has placed an increased focus on diversity and inclusion in recruitment efforts. Historically, the industry had a reputation of being male-dominated, but concerted efforts have been made to recruit women and underrepresented communities. To attract and retain a diverse workforce, the industry has implemented policies and initiatives to support diversity and inclusion, such as unconscious bias training and flexible working arrangements.
A bright future
In conclusion, the nuclear energy industry has undergone significant changes over the past four decades, with new technologies and recruitment strategies transforming how energy is produced and the types of professionals attracted to the sector. Operators will continue to evolve rapidly in the coming years to address the challenges faced by this essential industry – and we’re excited to play our part in its future.
If you’re looking for an experienced partner to support your efforts to recruit top nuclear talent, please feel free to connect with me and get in touch. Alternatively, if you’re looking for a career in the sector yourself, please take a look at the exciting roles we’re currently looking for on behalf of our prestigious nuclear clients.