Spring 2019

New talent recruitment goes nuclear

A new wave of recruits bolsters the nuclear industry.

As a key player in a science-based industry continually looking to diversify its workforce and foster new talent, James Fisher Nuclear (JFN) has been focusing on nurturing talent in the last few years to address the industry-wide skills shortage.

'The nuclear industry has in the past has not been a particularly diverse industry with lots of barriers to entry and we want to change that by actively encouraging talented school and university leavers from all backgrounds as different mind-sets increase innovation and creativity, which is especially important within this sector.'

Explains JFN engineering director Steve Bradshaw, adding:

'Our recruits are being mentored by senior engineers in their chosen field and gaining real life on site experience that will help them build successful careers in the industry.'

In the last eighteen months, for instance, three new technical and engineering apprentices have joined the team. Grace McCrickard joined as an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) , robotics and engineering apprentice after excelling in a City and Guilds advanced technologies apprenticeship. She will be completing vocational training in piloting UAV and ROVs and JFN is supporting the completion of her commercial drone pilot's licence and using her pilot skills to complete visual inspections at customer sites, including the Sellafield nuclear power plant.

Grace says:

'I really love the unique role that I have at JFN. None of my friends are doing anything like this and I feel lucky to have the opportunity to develop a career as a drone pilot.'

She joins Lauren Rogers, now 18-months into her project engineer apprenticeship at JFN, who said:

'I didn't learn anything about the nuclear industry in school, but here I'm learning a lot every day. I am so lucky to have been given this opportunity as a school leaver – there is lots of opportunity to learn and I receive lots of support to understand this new, technical subject.'

Hatti Sonley, who won apprentice of the year in 2015 when she was working at JFN as an engineering apprentice, has returned to the JFN team to work as a bid lead, explains:

'The process can be complicated and involves compiling highly detailed technical information, while considering all the work that will need to go into achieving the deliverables of the project.'

Hatti has also been enrolled on the group graduate leadership scheme, through which she receives mentoring and training to advance in her career, develop her engineering expertise. This also offers her exposure to related areas of the business in other James Fisher companies such as JFMS, Scantech and Fendercare.

Catherine Anthony, who joined in 2015 on the company's graduate scheme, has also recently returned to JFN as a mechanical design engineer. She is currently working on JFN's largest project: the decommissioning of the Winfrith power station in Dorset and the removal of the Steam Generating Heavy Water Reactor there.

Catherine mentions how things have changed since then:

'The nuclear industry's skills gap has meant a lack of diverse talent, particularly on the engineering side when I started at JFN in 2015 but the situation has really improved over the years and there's now much broader representation of people entering the sector and being supported to reach their potential.

Many of JFN's staff also act as STEM ambassadors, meeting current students and showcasing the careers that are available to future engineers. In that role, Catherine mentors engineering students at a local college and Grace regularly takes part in a women-in-engineering initiative, visiting schools to talk to students about careers in engineering and the nuclear sector.

Further information

If you're interested in a graduate scheme or apprenticeship, visit our dedication section and view our latest opportunities.

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