One of the things that I like about being working with nukes is the fact that they plan ahead. Sometimes that characteristic is frustrating to people that are a bit more impatient and who want instantaneous results.
As companies continue to prepare for the second Atomic Age, they are making investments and developing partnerships to ensure that there will be sufficient numbers of trained people ready when the plants are ready. Many critics like to point to the demographics in the nuclear industry as an overwhelming challenge, but since it takes less time to train people than it does to build a significant number of plants the industry’s plan schedule seems to be progressing reasonably well.
The nation’s community colleges are a prime group for partnerships in training and education needed to meet the industry’s growth and replacement needs. A large portion of the lifetime jobs that will be made available after the construction phase do not require a four year degree, but about two years worth of technical training that can eventually lead to a four year degree in one of several associated fields like mechanical, electrical, civil, or even nuclear engineering.
(One caution – please recognize that “nuclear engineering” is not the only path for success in the industry. In fact, in an era where people have recognized the significant cost savings that can accrue with standardized designs, there will not be as large a need for nuclear engineers as there was during the first Atomic Age. If NE programs try to match the production levels of the 1960s and 1970s, they will produce a glut.)
One college that has recently announced a new program created in cooperation with local nuclear power plants is Lake Michigan College. You can find out more about the announcement by reading Lake Michigan College to begin nuclear tech program, published on May 2, 2008 by mlive.com. Here is a sample from the article:
Increased demand in the industry and retirements locally spurred the two companies to work with LMC to develop local training, Savage said. FirstEnergy has done similar collaborations with community colleges near its plants outside Cleveland and Toledo, Ohio, he noted.
The two nuclear plants’ staffs helped design specialized courses such as reactor theory, Savage said.
The whole two-year program is applicable to other power-generating operations, according to LMC.