There has never been a better time to attract talent from other sectors to the nuclear industry
Over the last decade, my colleagues and I at Thomas Thor have brought hundreds of highly qualified professionals and leaders to the nuclear industry from other relevant industries. Through our recruitment and executive search business we have become an ambassador for career opportunities in nuclear, specifically when it comes to identifying which industries to bring people from and which skills and attributes to look for. We have never seen a higher level of interest in the nuclear sector than we do now. This short article aims to share our perspectives on where these people are, how to attract them and what benefits they bring.
Who are they and where are they?
Focusing on industries where safety culture and technical complexity are characteristics is a good place to start. This means that industries such as rail, chemicals, gas, defence and heavy industry are good targets. Most of us in the nuclear sector will have worked with colleagues that have experience in these industries. Project and facility lifecycles are typically much shorter in other industries than in nuclear, which means that it makes sense to track projects and lifecycle stages and be ready to hire people when they become available. Focusing on projects delivered on time and budget and on facilities with a successful operation history makes the most sense. Typically, these projects and facilities are spread out in remote locations all over the world, so having a truly global view when recruiting increases success.
Why is the nuclear industry attractive?
We have seen interest in careers in the nuclear industry increase steadily over the last decade. Particularly in recent years, more and more people are associating nuclear with carbon free electricity and the fight against climate change. Interestingly, we have seen people from the oil & gas industry as well as the renewables industry proactively look to move their careers to nuclear. As well as the environmental motivations, there is a strong desire for stability and certainty across the global workforce. Relative to many other industries, nuclear offers longer term stability and better career development opportunities. In addition, people in the nuclear industry have a reputation for professionalism, quality focus and high integrity. It does not matter which generation we consider; everyone wants to work with professional, competent and high integrity people.
What are the benefits of hiring people from other industries?
We are increasingly appreciating the benefits of diversity in our teams and organisations, not just in the form of characteristics such as gender, age and ethnicity, but also cognitive diversity and diversity of experience. What better way to provide an adrenalin shot of diversity to the global nuclear workforce than to bring people from different industries? Hand picking individuals that have been responsible for on time and on budget delivery of projects, or the safe and efficient operation of complex facilities, will be essential if we are to achieve the Harmony Goal of 25% electricity generated by nuclear by 2050. We are also seeing the effects of the stagnation of the nuclear industry in many parts of the world in the 1990s, which has led to gaps in succession for senior leadership roles. These gaps can be perfectly filled by bringing people from outside of the sector.
In summary, we notice that many job descriptions state that previous experience in the nuclear industry is ‘’desirable, but not essential’’. However, in practice people are often drawn to hire those most similar to themselves, meaning people who are already in the nuclear industry. The needs are so significant that we have enough opportunities to provide excellent career development for those in the sector as well as bringing in complimentary talent from outside. It is time to go out of our comfort zone and bring the benefits of more diverse talent and varied experience to our sector.