back to article Blighty admits 'national shortage' of nuke engineers

British immigration authorities have re-classified a range of nuclear-power specialisations as "national shortage occupations" and will thus ease applications for work permits. The move reflects a widespread perception that the somewhat moribund UK nuclear workforce will be unable to handle the planned renewal - and possible …


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  1. David Harper

    Look on the bright side

    We may not be training anyone in nuclear physics or engineering these days, but our universities are producing plenty of people with degrees in hip subjects such as media studies, marketing and homeopathy. That'll show all of those smug foreigners that we mean business!

  2. Ian Ferguson


    My brother is a mechanical engineer, and *was* working in the nuclear industry - but got out because it's dying on it's arse; people being made redundant all over the place, projects bogged down in beaurocracy, focus on cost-saving rather than innovation, etc.

    If it was an enticing career, I'm sure there'd be plenty of applicants. Moral politics aside, what the nuclear industry needs is the go-ahead for new power stations, rather than simply attending to the dodgy old ailing stations built in the seventies that were designed to be decommissioned by now.

  3. Anonymous Coward

    Maybe I'll apply

    I know visual basic, do you think I have a chance to get the reactor physicist post?

  4. christopher

    Sector 7G

    I know just the man for the job.

    Sorry! Just had to say it.

  5. James Pickett
    Thumb Down


    Sorry to sound xenophobic and/or cynical, but I'm not wholly at ease with the thought of French engineers assembling nuclear reactors on UK soil. It is no coincidence that they have sited their own (and a reprocessing plant) at the Northern tip of the Cherbourg peninsular, where the prevailing wind is away from their mainland and straight over ours, via the Isle of Wight (two birds with one stone!)

    It seems we are cowering over terrorists when detention is being considered, but completely blasé about them when building indefensible targets...

  6. Anonymous Coward

    Not supprised!

    The Government sold off the arm of BNFL that was responsible for new build - Westinghouse, now owned by the Japenese. Westinghouse being an American business had all their expertise over there... it's now going to cost us a premium to attract these skills back over here!

    Got to love this country.

  7. Anonymous Coward


    we wouldent have these problems if UK industry would employ graduates.

    I hold a 2.1 in elecronic enginiering (A BSc, not BE I admit). Not the best, but not to bad. Could I get a job in the industry? Could I f**k. Noone wants graduates... They all want specalists in obscure fields who are MEng, IMEC/IEEE.

    I hate to go all HYS, but be willing train some people and you might have a workforce. Stop hopeing that other companys will put the time in so you can take there workers.

  8. Dangermouse

    And in other news...

    "...Seventy university science departments have been closed down or restructured in the past seven years and the number of single honours courses offering science degrees has decreased by 10% in the last decade."

    Source - Guardian Education...

    Not that I am usually a cardigan-wearing, sandelled Granuiad reader, but the article sure does highlight the delights of joined-up Government and, perhaps, the idea that a country really ought to be led with the next few years in mind, not the next few fucking minutes.

    ...just my 2 d's worth.

  9. Anonymous Coward

    Nuclear workers

    My wife is the head radiochemist at a nuclear power plant somewhere in northern Europe, and has commented in the past that if we ever decided to move to the UK, she is pretty much guaranteed work for life due to the shortage - it's not exactly new news, although it's getting more acute now. But taking other economic, political, and social points into account, we'd rather stay in a country with clean air and good social services, thanks...

  10. Slaine
    Dead Vulture

    implied racist comment

    ...given a choice, i'd much prefer to have a frenchman in charge of the Unclear power station, than some of the alternatives.

    Isn't that great - if I actually say or type the truth, as is my right to do, the post will need to be deleted because it will offend someone. What price the truth eh?

    So, this is how the Earth dies, not with a whimper - with a dubious job vacancy, limited takers, idiot government policy states "we must fill the position, even if none of our own home educated people would touch it with a barge pole, lets have that chap over there that we know nothing about and who just jumped off the boat from God knows where, even if the applicant is foreign and bearly understands English, and outwardly advokes his total lack of respect for our religion and our way of life"... hurr hurr, what does this button do? BOOOOOM!!!!! mushroom cloud, massive blast radius, retaliation, annihilation.

    Icon: you, me and them - give or take a decade.

  11. heystoopid
    Thumb Up


    Hmm , I wonder if the successful applicants can write home by the glow of cerenkov pool water light at night ?

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Ahh Progress

    After leading the entire world into the industrial age Britain can now relax.

    While it's true we can no longer produce ships, locomotives, cars, aircraft or other manufactured goods domestically, we can sell insurance to each other every bit as well as any country in the world goddammit !

    Ah Great Britain, a residential centre west of Europe serviced entirely by foreign companies.

    Shortage of engineers? Cobblers.

    Just because industry has too few engineering experts doesn't mean that the bean counters want to hire a load of expensive people who tell them that their stupid ideas are stupid.

    The jobs vacant pages will tell you if there is a "shortage" of certain skills.

  13. regadpellagru

    @James Pickett

    Pls switch Fox News off, it's not doing you any good.

    Here is the map of french nuclear power plants:

    It's distributed over the whole country, including (sorry), the north. There's no conspiracy, here, just optimization of loss in the cables transporting power. And yes, there are people actually living in the north of France, too.

    As for having the french build it, since it's the only country with over 70 % of its power on nuclear, built in the 70s-80s, and no serious accident to date, sounds like a reasonable idea, no ?

    Otherwise, just use the same workers that manage 80% of your callcenters. LOL.

  14. Chris Richards

    @Anonymous Coward

    With spelling like that I'm hardly surprised you couldn't get a job in the industry!

    And to be frank in this day and age a monkey with a lobotomy could get a 2.1 from most of the Universities in this country.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    RE Implied racist comment

    'even if the applicant is foreign and bearly understands English' ?!

    Back to HYS for you!

  16. Joe
    Thumb Down

    Re: perhaps... and @ Slaine

    Re: perhaps...

    Not being funny, but I'd prefer people working on nuclear projects to be the creme de la creme, not someone with a 2.1 who has difficulty with written English.

    @ Slaine

    Been reading the Daily Mail again, have you?

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @James Pickett

    So nothing to do with that lovely cold heat sink called the English Channel then?

  18. Beelzeebub

    The more I read

    the various comment pages on El Reg, the more I am convinced we are dead already, just in God's waiting room.

    ooh er! Can't believe I just said that!

  19. Anonymous Coward

    I hate to break it to you but...

    It's not just nuclear engineering that's dying on its arse in the UK. It's all branches of engineering.

    I normally try to avoid all that "things were better in my day" stuff, but there's a definite thread running through these comments. University courses folding, firms not employing graduates any more, expertise disappearing overseas and so on.

    Certainly in the 20+ years I've been working in embedded systems of one sort or another, the landscape has changed completely. I'm no expert but I reckon you could pick plenty of other fields that are the same.

  20. Anonymous Coward

    Hampster UPS Power

    No wonder there's a shortage of real skilled - and experienced technical people in this country when we have such wonderful magnets for the youth aspire to be contestants on Big Brother, X - Factor and Britain's 'Got' Talent ......

    I used to work extensively in the inspection industry in the power generation and oil industries all over the UK back in the 80's. Even then all of the power stations were being run into the ground by slashing the maintenance costs back ready for privatisation. I dread to think what state it’s in now given most of the Nuclear plant should have been decommissioned decades ago...

    Still we can all now manage to send a txt to let our loved ones know there's a mushroom cloud on its way....

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They're all building bombs

    There are a whole load of nuclear specialists working at Aldermaston who could be more usefully employed on nuclear power projects. I mean, like *lots* of them. And it would make the world a safer place too.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Joe & Chris Richards

    1) The spelling problem is Dyslexia. I couldn’t be bothered to spell check (my bad, but I didn't have time). That doesn’t make me stupid.

    2) That is the problem. Every industry expects a 1st + MEng + IEEE/IMEC. They need to face up to the fact that if you want good people you have to nurture them. The reason I wanted to become an Engineer was my Grandfather and a friend on mines father were both engineers. They really inspired me. Both of them worked for companies who trained them from O-level. Try finding someone who will do that today.

  23. Charles Tsang

    Move along, same old, same old...

    Damn, from the article, it seems we're going with the "tried and tested" water cooled reactors.

    I thought we might, like China and South Africa, be getting some of the new Pebble Based Reactors which as an offshoot of the higher operating temperatures, seem to offer some form of Hydrogen generation so would that be doubly green?

    They also have some built in limitation on reaction inherent in the design so that the response in an emergency is not a nail biting countdown of which vessel to flush/vent, but to kickback and have a pizza (or should that be donut) whilst the core hits a stable temperature on it's own.

    Oh well, given this government's track record with any large project from the Olympics to Warships, if anyone can make a Pebble Bed Reactor go critical, it will be them anyway!

  24. David Pollard

    Er, 'scuse ee but

    maybe I haven't been following the story properly, but have we still not yet worked out how to make bunker busters that we don't need etc.. etc..?

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    Its all gone wrong

    As someone who works in the merry hellhole that is Faslane Naval Base all I can say is this announcement took its time to break to the public. Its something the big wigs have been wetting themselves over for years. Some of the things that go on with our nuclear submarines could make you weep and I don't doubt thats its probably the same in nuclear power stations with cutting corners.

    Maybe if more time was spent encouraging people to take real degrees instead of gumpf like media studies we could sort it out but that would takes years of investment and lots of effort on the part of the government and the whole education system from primary school all the way up to university. Don't get me wrong perhaps Media Studies is of some benefit to some industries, but when you have more media grads than engineering, science and mathematics grads put together that does not bode well for the infrastructure of the nation.

  26. Anonymous Coward


    "It seems we are cowering over terrorists when detention is being considered, but completely blasé about them when building indefensible targets..."

    I think you picked the wrong icon - the black helicopters are down and to the right.

    As for the shortage of nuclear engineers, or any other engineers for that matter, maybe the gubmint might want to look at their systematic demolition of science education and funding over the past 10+ years.

    As for me, I've got a brace of degrees in theoretical physics (a BSc and a PhD) and I work in IT. Go figure. I'd love to get back to doing 'proper' science, but since the government seems more content ot breed mediocrity it'll probably be a cold day in Hell before I do.

    So it goes.

    Mine's the one with the one way ticket outta here ...

  27. Steve Mann

    French Technology?????!!!!!!

    The cheese-scarfing surrender monkeys have nukes?

    And proud Britannia is buying them?

    I dunno what's worse: The panic amongst certain of my American colleagues when they read about the French being tooled up in the Plutonium Playpen, or that the land of my birth is so starved for good old British neutron know-how that they will be buying reactors from Le Creuset's latest line.

    Oh the humanity.

  28. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

    They need more than injeerneers

    I work in dirty horrid manufacturing, you know the endless amount of widget bashers that make the widgets that get welded together until they make a nuclear reactor or jet engine or some widget that ends up in a kidney machine.

    We cant get people either, mainly because due to the high technology and skills needed in modern widget production that takes take ages to learn (about 10 yrs and need about the same educational requirements as a good degree course) for pay that is 1/2 what you'd get for doing A levels and a media studies degree over 5 years.

    Boris the Cockroach Dip.Comp(Open) and 20 years programming industrial robots to doing my every evil bidding...oh and making widgets too

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Joe and @AC (the one who wrote perhaps)

    Joe, before I scrolled down to see that the author of perhaps had already said so, I was going to say that the post looked like a textbook case of dyslexia not bad spelling: it's possible to start having a pretty good idea of the difference when you're accustomed to reading both. It's like making spelling mistakes when typing fast - does that make someone an idiot

    And @ the AC himself, it's not just you, it's all graduates. I have 1st class honours and a distinction MSc Management from a Russell Group University and still struggled to find a job - it's just an awful time to try and find employment at the moment and unfortunately with just a 2:1 you don't stand a chance, although you should try some of the larger defence firms, they'll take you if you know how to interview well as they hire enough people to take the occasional risk

  30. Solomon Grundy

    re: @Joe & Chris Richards

    "My bad, but I didn't have time to use spell check".

    If you have Dyslexia then it is your responsibility to use the resources available to compensate for your challenges. Failure to do so is proof that there's nothing wrong with you or that you're looking for sympathy/handouts.

    Make the time. You obviously can't be that busy, you're commenting on a news website in the middle of a workday...

  31. Anonymous Coward

    "working at Aldermaston" - it's as safe as houses

    They may be *employed* at Aldermaston/Burghfield, but they're proably not *working* there: there's been little or no nuclear weapons work there since last summer's floods.

    Anyway, the country's future is in the service sector now, financial services in particular. What could possibly go wrong with that, it's safe as houses (y'know, like, safe as house prices)?

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Stop whingeing, you lot

    Down here we don't even make our own boomerangs. In fact, the only significant thing we've managed to cobble together lately is a few conventional submarines - and that's only because any fool can build a boat that sinks.

  33. Slaine

    Two useless degrees in Science

    @AC 12:19 on 9/6: because if I wrote M*sl*m the thread would NEVER be accepted. What IS HYS anyway?

    @joe: Daily Mail? no mate, the register, the winds of change and some ancient rune bones.

  34. John

    oil be getting me coat then

    Elsewhere in the general media I read that the daily use of oil is 1.8 million barrels. I also read that we produce 1.7 million barrels of oil a day. Why are we flogging it when we could use it ourseleves? Or is there something wrong with it?

    I also find it odd that we dish out marketing degrees like sweeties (just as there's an economic downturn and crunchy credit) when we actually need nuke engineers. However, due to the political situation, certain groups of the populace are discouraged from entering such professions, but on the basis of equality, they can't be seen to discriminate. Poor planning (as AC MSc Management would tell us) of everything (transport, education etc) by the govt seems to be robbing us of our future.

  35. steve

    Re HYS

    HYS = BBC's 'Have Your Say' forum, normal home of bigoted daily mail readers and BNP activists

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