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Workers May Shun Nuke Sector If New Projects Do Not Proceed

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The U.S. has enough skilled workers to facilitate a nuclear-power renaissance, but that expertise could disappear for a decade or more if new projects fail to materialize, a panel of industry experts said on Aug. 30 at a hearing in Washington, D.C. “Accumulating a pool of highly skilled and highly valued and qualified construction workers needed to build nuclear units and maintain them will no doubt be a challenge,” said Sean McGarvey, secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO Building and Construction Trades Dept. In Washington, D.C., addressing the Obama Administration’s Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future, he said the economic crisis “is putting us in danger of losing our best and brightest to other careers and industries,” referring to craft workers and instructors. “You don’t train them and put them on a shelf. It takes years to hone those skills.” John Guttridge, who manages the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s nuclear education program, said he sees a decline in jobs for students with agency scholarships. “Absent retirements and new builds, we might be incurring an oversupply in some areas. I found a lot of very high-caliber students at some Texas schools who couldn’t find employment.”

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