Nuclear power employment trends to look out for in 2024

February 27, 2024

Nuclear power plant at twilight with illuminated cooling tower

AI in the nuclear power sector: Insights from the 2024 GETI Report 

Since its launch in 2017, the Global Energy Talent Index (GETI) Report has detailed emerging trends across the global energy workforce. Over the last eight years, GETI has gathered insights from thousands of professionals to create a comprehensive map of the energy employment landscape, providing firms with the tools to attract and retain talent.

The 2024 GETI report explores the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) and how it impacts the energy industry, from skills in demand to job roles. 

In this blog post, we’ll uncover how the nuclear sector is currently approaching AI adoption and dive into trends related to salaries, global mobility, skills demand and the energy transition. 

Here is a list of sections covered in the article:

What are nuclear professionals’ expectations around salary for 2024?

The majority of nuclear employees (42%) reported an increase in income over the last year. However, this is down from 47% in 2022 and lower than anywhere else in the energy industry. Hiring managers have a sunnier outlook, with 74% receiving a pay increase last year and 35% reporting an increase of more than 5%. 

Professionals vs managers pay change expectations - 2024 GETI reportNuclear professionals do, however, see the future in a brighter light regarding pay. 51% of workers and 78% of hiring managers expect a pay rise in the coming 12 months. That said, it must be noted that 73% of workers anticipated a pay increase last year. 

Nuclear firms should conduct regular market salary assessments to meet this expectation to ensure competitive compensation packages. Another solution is implementing performance-based incentives and bonuses to help motivate the workforce, meet their salary expectations and retain top talent

Download the GETI report to find out more about nuclear professionals’ salary expectations in 2024

Global mobility is less favourable for the nuclear sector in 2024

65% of nuclear professionals are open to relocation this year, a 12% decrease from last year. 58% of respondents said their firm offers cross-regional transfers, and a third of the workers surveyed are expatriates. Regardless, 35% simply do not wish to relocate for work, up from 23% last year. 

Those open to moving for work cited career progression as the biggest motivator (42%). The most attractive destination to relocate to is Europe, followed by North America and the Middle East. 

Those reluctant to move said proximity to family and lack of opportunity were the biggest barriers. 

The energy industry is known for its mobility, so the nuclear sector stands out as one with less enthusiasm for relocation. This could be because nuclear power plants tend to forge long-term communities around them, meaning that workers feel more connected to their location. Another significant hurdle for the sector is security clearance when moving between countries, as security is taken very seriously within the nuclear sector. 

Download the GETI report to find out more about nuclear professionals’ global mobility preferences in 2024

Attracting and retaining talent in the nuclear power sector

Despite the apparent rootedness of the nuclear workforce, hiring managers can’t afford to get complacent; 77% of nuclear workers would still consider switching to a new role. 

Half of those surveyed said they would stick to the nuclear sector when job hunting, but 40% would move to a different sector and 24% said they would leave the energy industry altogether. 

2024 GETI report data showing that 40% would move sectors, 24% leave energy amongst nuclear power workers

As with global relocation, the biggest motivation for a job move was career progression, followed by interest in the wider sector and the chance to work with technology.

What’s interesting is that remuneration doesn’t make the top three reasons for a job move, despite lower rates of pay increases across the sector. However, there’s a possibility that higher salaries could fall under the umbrella of ‘career progression’. 

Hiring managers need to ensure they don’t take the apparently settled nature of their workforce as complete job satisfaction. If their optimism for pay isn’t met with remuneration this year, they may be less settled in the future.

In addition, 79% of workers reported being approached for another role in the last year, with 10% being contacted more than 20 times. If workers feel that their salary expectations are not being met, the temptation to take these offers up may strengthen. 

Download the GETI report to find out more about nuclear professionals’ career mobility preferences in 2024

What does the transition to clean energy mean for nuclear organisations?

The energy market is undergoing a significant transition. The world is moving away from fossil fuels and towards renewable energy sources. This shift is driven by several factors, including the need to reduce carbon emissions, improve energy security, and create jobs in the clean energy sector.

Nuclear firms are well-positioned to take advantage of this, but to do so requires a lot of preparation, including attracting and maintaining a talented workforce and developing new strategies for marketing themselves in the clean energy space.

Why does the energy transition present a challenge to nuclear firms?

There are two key reasons why the transition to clean energy presents a challenge for nuclear firms.

Firstly, the traditional energy sector has been slow to adapt to change. The energy recruitment process is a good example of this - it has remained largely unchanged for years, although the energy sector is going through a period of unprecedented transformation.

Secondly, nuclear firms are facing competition from new entrants to the energy market who are better equipped to deal with the transition. These new entrants, such as Renewables companies, are often nimble and agile in their processes and have the advantage of being unencumbered by some of the legacy issues that face nuclear firms.

Download the GETI report to find out more about nuclear professionals’ career mobility preferences in 2024

What can nuclear firms do to adapt to the change?

There are a few things that nuclear firms can do to adapt to this shift. The first is to embrace digitalisation and data to optimise their processes. They can do this by, for example, using data analytics to monitor energy consumption patterns and identify areas for improvement.

Another way that Nuclear firms can adapt is by diversifying their energy mix. This will help them to hedge their bets against the variability of renewable energy sources and provide a more reliable energy supply.

It is also important that businesses focus on employee retention and energy recruitment to stay ahead of the competition. For example, hiring managers should be actively looking for ways to alleviate their employees' concerns around energy transition and providing training to help them adapt to any changes in processes and equipment.

Lastly, Nuclear firms need to continue to invest in research and development to maintain their competitive advantage. Companies can do this by investing in energy storage technologies or developing new nuclear reactor designs that are more efficient and have a smaller environmental footprint.

What opportunities does the transition to clean energy provide to nuclear firms?

The energy transition presents a number of opportunities for nuclear firms. Firstly, it provides an opportunity to increase the use of existing nuclear power plants as countries look to decarbonise their energy mix.

There is also an opportunity to develop new, advanced small modular reactors (SMRs) which are more flexible and can be used in a variety of applications. 

Another opportunity presented by the energy transition is the development of innovative nuclear fusion reactors. These have the potential to be much cleaner and more efficient than existing nuclear fission reactors.

So, there are many opportunities for nuclear firms if they can embrace the change and adapt their business models.

The nuclear workforce has been slower to take on AI than other sectors 

Although most of the energy industry is embracing AI, 61% of nuclear professionals reported not using AI in the workplace. However, 27% of those surveyed told us they use AI, and 9% said they expect to adopt it within the next six months. 

A third of nuclear companies say they have an AI policy in place, and 24% of workers have read them, suggesting that those already using AI are committed to working within the parameters of their company’s policies. 

2024 geti report data showing percentage of AI adoption in the nuclear power sector

Most of those already adopting AI in the nuclear sector report using machine learning and robotic process automation applications. 

Despite the lower numbers, 42% of nuclear respondents feel fairly optimistic about AI’s role in the workplace, and 36% are very optimistic. This contrasts with the response from other sectors, where the combined percentage for optimism is higher.

The most prominent factor getting in the way of AI adoption in the nuclear sector is insufficient investment in applications, followed by a lack of clarity on which tools provide the best fit for the company and insufficient or poor data quality. 

More positively, 69% of employees expect to experience greater productivity due to AI adoption, and 52% anticipate increased job satisfaction. 

Download the full 2024 GETI report

Would you like to learn more about nuclear employment trends expected to shape the sector in 2024? Get all the latest insights and information on trends across the rest of the energy industry in the 2024 GETI report. Download it today.

Download the GETI report 2024

This post was written by: Callum Donaldson, Vice President of Business Development & Sales