October 26, 2020
Given the change of course that has happened in the world, we wanted to provide expert opinions on what aspiring graduates can do to start off their careers in an uncertain economic climate. We wanted to know what skills will be more important, where the economy is doing relatively well, and if there will be any lasting effects on the job market.
Companies are looking for candidates that can handle the new responsibilities of the job market. Recent graduates actually have an advantage because they are comfortable using newer technologies and have been communicating virtually their whole lives. They can take what they've learned and apply it immediately.
We spoke to professors and experts from several universities and companies to get their opinions on where the job market for recent graduates is heading, as well as how young graduates entering the industry can be adequately prepared. Here are their thoughts.
Dr. Sheldon Landsberger: Individual nuclear power plants, national laboratories like Los Alamos, Oak Ridge.
Dr. Sheldon Landsberger: There may be increases or decreases in certain areas but, overall, the demand will be stable... but as older people retire, those positions will need to be filled, mostly at the national lab.
Dr. Sheldon Landsberger: It depends on their skillset, either BS, MS, or Ph.D. There are nuclear-related jobs all over the USA, particularly in the northeast.
Mohammad Modarres Ph.D.: There has been a shortage of nuclear engineering workforce, and graduates have been in high demand. Considering the extensive uses of nuclear facilities and materials not only for design, fabrication, operation, and manufacturing in nuclear plants, but also in defense, national laboratories, and health settings, while employment like any other engineering field slowed down due to the pandemic, I expect it to remain healthy and vital in the future.
Mohammad Modarres Ph.D.: The nuclear power workforce is aging, and utilities that own nuclear plants have been the primary employer, followed by DOE (including national labs.), NRC, Navy, and Radiation (health) facility manufacturers. As nuclear plants age and are decommissioned, the utility owners would need fewer atomic engineers. But, I expect employment at the governmental, nuclear facility vendors, and other institutions will remain unchanged.
Mohammad Modarres Ph.D.: There are exciting technologies of small modular reactors (SMRs), with passive safety features (hands-off operations) being developed that are far more economical and will be available soon. NRC just gave a design certification to one of them last Friday (NuScale). In a scenario where decarbonization of the energy production and usage, sooner than later, will become inevitable, nuclear power will be the resource (in addition to other renewables) to rely on for sustained, safe, and economical production of our base energy.