Now here is a headline that makes it fun to wake up in the morning and turn on the computer – Atomic jobs explosion.
The story was published on November 3, 2006 on the web site of The Australian in the Features section. Interestingly enough, a link to the story shares the publication’s home page with a link to a story titled Ford to cut 640 jobs in Victoria. Of course, we nukes are not quite “there” yet; the Atomic jobs explosion story link is in much smaller print and it is located at the computer equivalent of “below the fold” where you actually have to scroll down to see it. Oh well, that just means there is still work to be done!
Back to the story itself – according to Joseph Kerr, the author of Atomic jobs explosion “The greatest barrier to developing a nuclear industry in Australia is not political or public will but the lack of a qualified work force.” The story details the thousands of opportunities that will result if Australia decides to become a bigger player in The Second Atomic Age (my words) and also describes how tiny Australia’s existing atomic labor force is now.
Of course, there are some people that disagree with the notion that the current situation is an obstacle to development. Here is another quote from the article:
Some experts aren’t worried about the skills shortage. John White, former head of the Government’s uranium industry taskforce, says building a nuclear power plant can take up to 15 years.
“When you start off on a new class of infrastructure like a new class of submarines (or nuclear power plants), of course you don’t have the skilled people,” White says.
“But you can put through three to four rounds of graduates and trainees from scratch in the gestation period of the projects we’re talking about.”
In all the projects White has been involved in, including offshore oil and gas work and the Anzac frigate project, expert subcontractors have been sourced from across the world.
“We can do about anything in this country we’ve wanted,” he says.
I have to agree with Mr. White, but that should not cause anyone to pause in taking action. There is certainly time to train people, but every day of delay in getting started adds to the time that will have to pass before there is an established, self sustaining body of experts that can help develop and maintain a viable power generation industry fueled by uranium.
For students looking for a great opportunity, learning something about nuclear energy will certainly not be a wasted skill even if the development takes a bit longer than you might like. I have personally never met an unemployed ex-Nuke unless it was during a very brief between jobs period.