Can the nuclear power industry overcome a critical labor shortage?

Summary:Nuclear power may have the U.S. president's backing, but its stigma has left the industry with a graying workforce that needs a shot in the arm to the tune of some 25,000 workers.

Nuclear power may have the U.S. president's backing, but its stigma has left the industry with a graying workforce that needs a shot in the arm to the tune of some 25,000 workers.

At least that's what reporter Jonathan Berr says, who writes on DailyFinance that an aging workforce may be a major hurdle in President Obama's attempt to infuse the industry with some $8.33 billion in loan guarantees to build new nuclear reactors.

The problem: Nuclear catastrophes over the years, such as the Three Mile Island incident, have discouraged folks to enter the industry.

Now, those who are left in the highly-trained workforce are nearing the age for retirement.

That's a problem, since 18 commercial nuclear projects are under consideration, according to the Energy Information Administration.

Here's the good news: Some plant owners, such as Public Service Enterprise Group, have been working with local community colleges to train qualified workers.

Just last year, the Nuclear Energy Institute wrote in a report that "to maintain the current nuclear work force, the industry may need to hire as many as 25,000 more workers in the next five years."

The problem? Nuclear power is as much as political issue as it is an environmental or economic one.

Last month, the Vermont State Senate voted to close Entergy Corp.'s leaky 625-megawatt Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

Topics: Innovation

About

Andrew Nusca is a former writer-editor for ZDNet and contributor to CNET. He is also the former editor of SmartPlanet, ZDNet's sister site about innovation. He writes about business, technology and design now but used to cover finance, fashion and culture. He was an intern at Money, Men's Vogue, Popular Mechanics and the New York Daily Ne... Full Bio

zdnet_core.socialButton.googleLabel Contact Disclosure

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Related Stories

The best of ZDNet, delivered

You have been successfully signed up. To sign up for more newsletters or to manage your account, visit the Newsletter Subscription Center.
Subscription failed.