home Nuclear Attitude, Pending Reactors, U Macron’s Plan for New Nuclear Reactors Sparks Hiring Drive

Macron’s Plan for New Nuclear Reactors Sparks Hiring Drive

  • Macron’s call for six new plants sparks push for more staff
  • Industry needs to train more welders, electricians, engineers

The French nuclear industry, already grappling with the maintenance of its fleet of aging reactors, needs to recruit as many as 15,000 employees annually as President Emmanuel Macron pushes for at least six new plants to help reduce carbon emissions.

Annual hiring needs through 2030 range from 10,000 to 15,000 compared with 5,000 hires a year in the 2019-22 period, Alain Tranzer, Electricite de France SA’s general deputy head of industrial quality and nuclear skills, said at a news conference in Paris Tuesday. The industry may employ about 300,000 people at the end of the decade, up from 220,000 currently, he said.

The risk of labor shortages in an industry that’s key to the country’s power supply and net-zero ambition by 2050 is highlighted by a current shortfall in specialized welders. State-owned EDF and some suppliers have had to bring in workers from North America to help check and repair pipes at several reactors. Still, France faces the prospect of rolling power cuts in the coming winter, as at least 10 of the group’s 56 atomic units won’t restart by year-end.

“Having the right skills at the right moment at the right place is really crucial” to implementing Macron’s plan, Helene Badia, head of an association that coordinates training for nuclear jobs across the country, said at the same news conference. “We know which jobs aren’t met by the current training and hiring system.”

Consequently, the industry is establishing programs to attract and train staff including welders, pipe experts, electricians, engineers and project managers, said Alain Gauvin, chief executive officer of Onet Technologies and vice-president of Gifen, the French nuclear industry trade group.

Despite current issues, EDF, which is grappling also with the construction of a nuclear plant in Flamanville, western France, is making progress in its plan to improve workers’ skills, project and supply-chain management, standardization and construction, Tranzer said. That’s showing in its Hinkley Point C project in the UK, and will further benefit new-builds that are planned in France, he said.

Assuming Macron’s plan to build six new reactors is approved by parliament by the end of next year, EDF could start preparatory earthworks to build a first pair in Penly, Normandy from June 2024, said Gabriel Oblin, EDF director for the project. Reactor construction could then start by the end of 2027, with commissioning planned for 2035-37.

Source: Bloomberg