Sharing Talent, Recruiting From Other Industries

By Bridget Testa

May. 4, 2007

The nuclear industry’s workforce shortage is real, but independent consultant Chuck Goodnight doesn’t believe it’s either debilitating or critical to current plant operations. Nor does he think it will be a problem in the future.

    For the present, Goodnight sees other alternatives. Nuclear power plants can team up with other plants, either owned by the same utility or by other utilities, to share scarce human and material resources. “You can move people around if you own more than one plant,” he says. “If you’re only one operating plant, form an alliance with others.”

    Two such alliances have been formed: STARS (Strategic Teaming and Resource Sharing) and the Utilities Service Alliance. “The tactic is to act like or be a fleet,” Goodnight says.

    Another alternative is to recruit from other industries that have high concentrations of engineers. “Auto manufacturing and the airline industry are coming apart at the seams,” Goodnight says. “The refining industry is very volatile. There are highly skilled people [in these industries] who will be seeking employment.”

    Permitting a broader range of people to work in nuclear power plants is also an option, though rules that currently permit only U.S. citizens to take these jobs would have to change. “There were a lot of nuclear plants and vessels in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, and there are a lot of ex-nuclear personnel from there who are available,” Goodnight says. “But we’d have to change the Homeland Security rules. After all, national security also requires a safe, independent energy supply.”

Workforce Management, April 23, 2007, p. 22Subscribe Now!

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