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THE NUCLEAR ENGINEERING JOB MARKET INTRODUCTION This chapter summarizes U.S. demand for nuclear engineers with bachelor of science (B.S.) or higher degrees over the next 20 years. The committee considered three scenarios (high, best-estimate, and low) for projecting demand. The best-estimate scenario indicates that demand for nuclear engineers will increase substantially. In addition to nuclear engineers, there is a large population of degreed personnel in technical fields who have taken some academic courses in nuclear science and technology. The demand for these individuals is expected to grow proportionally. Such growth will clearly have an impact on academic nuclear engineering departments. ~ v - O--- in nuclear engineering. For hi .~ori Cal r~-~ons' many of these employees hold decrees in the Physical For the purpose of this demand analysis, nuclear engineers are defined as individuals who, according to their employers, serve in jobs requiring the knowledge and skills of a B.S. or hither level degree v r" . J V ~ - r--~ - sciences and other engineering fields, supplemented by some coursework in nuclear engineering. With increasing emphasis on highly trained engineers, it is expected that employers seeking replacements for these individuals will endeavor to hire degreed nuclear engineers. The committee recognizes the existence of and need for two-year nuclear technology programs and the fact that, under some circumstances, graduates of these programs do, in fact, relieve the workload on B.S. graduates in nuclear engineering. However, an analysis of the two-year programs was not undertaken as part of this study. The committee also recognizes that, to some extent, a shortage in the supply of nuclear engineers could be met through employment of other engineers 21
22 and scientists, although they would need supplemental training. However, at present, the need is for a higher order of engineering excellence and more extensive application of engineering skills than in the past, and technical expertise is increasingly being recognized as an important qualification for high-level leadership positions in nuclear-related activities. Thus, data based on historic standards and practices are likely to be misleading in evaluating the extent to which recruitment from other fields can help solve a shortage in nuclear engineering.] The committee has been unsuccessful in obtaining assessments of the future number of nuclear engineers expected to be employed by Department of Energy (DOE) subcontractors (as opposed to prime contractors such as the national laboratories) for work related to new DOE initiatives in environmental remediation and waste management and also for defense programs. However, most of these subcontractors have been covered elsewhere in our census of nuclear engineers and the committee believes that the number omitted from its analysis is sufficiently small so as not to affect the findings and conclusions. Also not included in this study are the relatively small number of nuclear engineers employed by organizations doing work unrelated to nuclear energy, for example, computer manufacturers. Nor are the small number of nuclear engineers employed by state agencies included. These omissions may encourage underestimating the demand projections. EMPLOYMENT HISTORY In 1987, the most recent year for which data were available, 11,640 civilian nuclear engineers were employed in the industry and government segments as shown in Table 3-1. Of this total, 1,970 were associated with the Department of Defense (DOD), 1,640 with the DOE complex, and the remaining 8,030 with the civilian nuclear power industry (electric utilities accounting for 2,040), distributed across the other segments indicated in Table 3-1. There were also about 450 nuclear engineers serving in the military services. Further, the committee estimates that about 270,000 persons work in the nuclear industry, about one-third with degrees in the physical sciences or other engineering fields and with some nuclear coursework. These individuals could be replaced with individuals having similar qualifications rather than with degreed nuclear engineers. 1 The data on civilian nuclear engineering employment used in this study are based on employment surveys conducted for the U.S. Department of Energy by the Labor and Policy Studies Program of the Science/Engineering Education Division, Oak Ridge Associated Universities and the Department of Defense Manpower Data Center. This information was validated by data provided for this study by the Department of Energy and the industrial employers of nuclear engineers listed in Appendix D. Data on the number of nuclear engineers employed by or serving in the armed forces were provided by the military services.
23 TABLE 3-1 Employment of Civilian Nuclear Engineers of All Degree Levels by Primary Government and Industry Segments, 1981-1987 Change, Segment 1981 1983 1985 1987 1981 to 1987 Fuel cycle and waste management 200 Reactor and facilities design, engineering, and manufacturing 1,400 Reactor operations and maintenance 340210520 320 1,4601,7001,860 460 Utility employees1,2001,7402,0302,040840 Nonutility employees1003106301,6601,560 Nuclear-related education and research Education & fission research1,5001,4101,4601,640140 Fusion research650600500400-250 Weapons development and production200220310320120 Federal government employees Department of Energy18032726526282 Nuclear Regulatory Commission820586595658-162 Department of Defense1,1801,5471,6801,970790 Other6501,380950310-340 Total employment8,0809,92010,33011,6403,560 SOURCES: Biennial surveys by Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU) for the U.S. Department of Energy, data provided by employers to the National Research Council Committee on Nuclear Engineering Education, and data developed by ORAU from the surveys of scientists and engineers sponsored by the National Science Foundation. The DOE/ORAU survey data have been validated using additional information and corrections obtained by the Committee Engineering Education. Department of Defense data were by the Defense Manpower Data Center. on Nuclear supplied
24 Table 3-1 shows the distribution of civilian nuclear engineering employment by segment from 1981 through 1987. Civilian employment in this context encompasses the federal governmental agencies and their contractors, and industry and utility jobs associated with civilian nuclear power. The civilian data exclude individuals serving in uniform with the military services. Reactor operations and maintenance account for the largest concentration of employment, 32 percent of the total in 1987; federal government employees, the second largest category, accounted for 25 percent. Other employment categories include reactor manufacturers, architect- engineers, consulting, and faculty associated with the university-based engineering programs, in 1987, 41 offering degrees in nuclear engineering and 20 offering nuclear engineering options in other engineering degree programs. Civilian nuclear engineering employment increased by 44 percent between 1981 and 1987. Utility employment of nuclear engineers grew by 70 percent over the period, primarily as a result of an increase in the number of nuclear power plants licensed to operate (from 72 to 106) and activities stemming from the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant accident in 1979. The growth of federal nuclear engineering employment largely reflected an increasing emphasis on military preparedness between 1981 and 1987. With all but a few of the nuclear power plants that were begun in the 1970s now in service, and with no unfilled orders for additional plants, industry nuclear engineering employment is expected to remain at about current levels for at least the next ~ . rive years. EMPLOYMENT FORECAST A forecast of U.S. nuclear engineering employment has been made by the committee for 5, 10, 15, and 20 years into the future based on what are regarded as reasonable assumptions about the principal factors that will determine those employment levels (see Appendix E). For purposes of this analysis, civilian nuclear engineering employment is divided into three categories: (1) DOE and its prime contractors, (2) other federal and state government agencies and their prime contractors, and (3) the civilian nuclear power industry. Although included in our forecast, Ph.D. holders are discussed separately because the market for their skills is so different. Our forecast is based on three scenarios: low growth, high growth, and the committee's best estimate. The high-growth and low-growth cases are regarded as unlikely but provide some bounding values. The best-estimate scenario consists of three components: (1) DOE and its contractors data (see Table 3-2 and Table E-4 for more detail); (2) other governmental agencies and contractors data, assumed to remain constant over the study period for all three scenarios (except for the Strategic Defense Initiative Organization); and (3) civilian nuclear power industry data based on the Electric Power Research Institute's (EPRI's) estimates of potential contributions of nuclear power to the nation's electrical needs with a
25 conservative five-year delay in implementation included. The committee's assumption of a five-year delay was derived from discussions with senior electric utility executives who indicated that the most likely date for a resumption of nuclear plant orders would be around the year 2000. The Department of Energy and Its Contractors The federal demand for nuclear engineers over the next five years will result primarily from replacement needs and the requirements of DOE's initiatives in such areas as environmental remediation, nuclear waste disposal, new production reactors, defense-related and nuclear energy R&D programs, and augmentation of the agency's nuclear engineering staff. Much will depend on the funding requested by the administration and appropriated by Congress. Proceeding with these initiatives according to current schedules could soon significantly increase the number of nuclear engineers required by DOE for both reactor and non-reactor-related activities. DOE provided the committee with its projections of nuclear engineering employment for the agency itself and for its contractor system, based on both high-growth and best-estimate scenarios. The assumptions for its growth scenarios are listed in Appendix E (Table E-29. These data have been summarized by Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU) and are shown in Table 3-2. The data received from DOE and its contractors reported only the nuclear engineering needs. While other types of engineers or scientists might be able to substitute for nuclear engineers in some situations, for most such types (such as environmental, mechanical, or chemical engineering) high demand and labor shortages are just as likely as for nuclear engineers. TABLE 3-2 Actual and Projected Employment of Nuclear Engineers for DOE Headquarters, Field, and Contractors, 1987-2010 Employment Scenario Year High Growth Best Estimate Low Growth 1987 1,640 1,640 1,640 1995 4,010 2,940 1,740 2000 4,950 3,140 1,840 2005 5,720 3,230 1,840 2010 7,620 3,310 1,840 SOURCE: U.S. DOE (1989)
26 Other Government Agencies and Contractors Economic, political, and strategic factors could alter the federal government's needs for nuclear engineers. However, in the absence of related information, the committee assumed that nuclear engineering employment in non- DOE government agencies (not including the Nuclear Regulatory Commission), the military services, and associated contractor services will remain relatively constant at 1,970 personnel over the study period for all three scenarios. Another exception to this assumption concerns the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) Organization (SDIO). SDIO requirements for employment of nuclear engineers are expected to increase if nuclear power is selected as the primary source of power for a significant number of SDI satellites (see Appendix E, Table E-5~. The highest projected SDIO employment requirements were calculated in the high-growth scenario. These requirements are projected for 1995 to be 300 nuclear engineers, for the year 2000 to be 600, for 2005 to be 1,500, and for 2010 to be 2,000 (Monahan, 1989~. The best-estimate scenario does not include SDIO requirements, because present international developments may result in a decreased SDIO program. Civilian Nuclear Power Industry The civilian nuclear power industry is the principal nongovernmental market for nuclear engineers holding bachelor's and master's of science degrees. Replacement needs alone will create a significant demand. The committee believes that environmental concerns, such as about global warming, and possible rising costs of electricity generated from fossil fuels may result in a resurgence of nuclear power plant orders in the United States. These factors could have a significant impact on nuclear engineering employment, depending upon their timing and vigor. In interviews with utility chief executive officers (CEOs), the committee was told that the most likely date for a resumption of nuclear power plant orders would be around the turn of the century. These CEOs pointed out that this resumption would have to be preceded by further revisions of the nuclear licensing process to reduce the financial risks and exposure to excessive delays associated with existing law. It would also require a satisfactory resolution of the problems encountered in the federal nuclear waste management program. The committee believes that a primary determinant of nuclear engineering employment in the civilian nuclear power industry is the number of nuclear power plants on order, under construction and in service. The committee's forecast relies on a mathematical model developed by Dr. William F. Naughton, consultant to the committee, in which the independent variables are time and the number of committed nuclear power units (see Appendix E). The model assumes that any reductions in demand for nuclear engineers arising from the use of advanced technologies, such as computer-aided design, would be smaller
27 than other uncertainties. This impact was not quantified and could reduce the projected demand estimate slightly. For purposes of this study, it is assumed that few, if any, of the 111 nuclear power units currently licensed to operate or nearing service will be retired before the year 2010. Even if some are retired, the nuclear engineering employment needs associated with decommissioning are likely to offset the reduction in employment of engineers for plant operations and maintenance. The committee further assumes that utility staffing for the nuclear plants under active construction and nearing service is essentially complete. Because of the uncertain outlook for the inactive projects still on the books, they have been omitted from this analysis. The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) was designated by the electric utility industry to provide the committee with a forecast of the earliest realistic date at which the U.S. electric utilities could be expected to begin ordering new nuclear power plants for public utility systems and an estimate of the rate at which such new orders could be expected in the years covered by this study. EPRI supplied a comprehensive analysis of the outlook for electricity demand and potential generating resources based on a range of average annual peak load growth rates from 1 to 3 percent, and various assumptions about contributions from load management, plant life extension, imports, and nonutility generation. EPRI's best-estimate case assumes a 2.6- percent annual growth in electricity demand through the year 2000, followed by a decade of 1.5-percent annual growth, with a 10-percent chance these growth rates will be exceeded. EPRI's median estimate translates into 170 gigawatts (electric) (GWe) of new generating capacity by the year 2000 and over 300 GWe by 2010, some fraction of which will be met by nuclear power. EPRI observed that a resumption of nuclear power plant orders appears more likely than at any time in the past decade, given such recent events and trends as the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's new combined license rulemaking (10 CFR 52), increased congressional interest in one-step nuclear licensing legislation, growing awareness and concern about the environmental damage being created by combustion of fossil fuels, and changes in public attitudes about the supply of electric power stemming from shortages that occurred in some areas of the country last year. EPRI concluded that as much as 10 percent of the new base load electric generating capacity required by the year 2000 could be provided by nuclear plants with new orders placed as early as 1993. This figure could increase to 15 percent of new capacity from 2000 to 2005 and to 30 percent from 2005 to 2010. The EPRI estimate was used in forecasting nuclear engineering employment for the high-growth case. The low-growth case assumes no new orders are placed before the year 2010. The best-estimate case assumes a resurgence of orders beginning, as predicted by the utility CEOs, in the year 2000, with nuclear power accounting for 10 percent of new capacity through the year 2005
28 and for 20 percent of new capacity through the year 2010. Table 3-3 shows the amount of additional nuclear capacity assumed in making the employment forecasts. The committee also assumed that two-thirds of the newly committed reactors will be 1,200 megawatts (electric) (MWe), advanced light water reactors and one-third will be 600 MWe class advanced designs with passive engineered safety features. TABLE 3-3 Projected Cumulative Additional Nuclear Power Plant Capacity Ordered by U.S. Utilities, for Three Different Scenarios (in GWe) Scenario - Year High Growth Best Estimate Low Growth 1990 0 0 0 1995 0 0 0 2000 18 0 0 2005 59 18 0 2010 108 59 0 Based on the assumptions for the different civilian nuclear power growth scenarios of Appendix E (Table E-1), the committee's projections of employment of nuclear engineers for the civilian nuclear power sector are shown in Table 3-4. TABLE 3-4 Actual and Projected Employment of Nuclear Engineers in the Civilian Nuclear Power Sector, 1987-2010 Scenario Year High Growth Best Estimate Low Growth 1987 8,030 8,030 8,030 1995 8,030 8,030 8,030 2000 9,450 8,030 8,030 2005 12,670 9,450 8,030 2010 16,450 12,670 8,030
29 Consolidated Employment Forecast Based on the above discussion and the 1987 civilian employment levels for the nuclear power industry (8,030) and the federal government (3,610), as shown in Table 3-l, the committee's employment forecast, using the forecasting model and growth scenarios of Appendix E, is illustrated in Figure 3-l. 30 28 26 24 22 20 18 - z ~ ~ c ~ _ _ _ °] 14 12 o LOW GROWTH 10 8 ~ 6 ~ _ ~~ ~00 ~ / ~ 00 ~ 700 /~ 1981 1983 1985 1987 t990 1995 2000 2005 2010 YEAR +BEST ESTIMATE 0 PUGH GROWTH FIGURE 3-l Projected total civilian employment of nuclear engineers, 1990-2010, for three scenarios (estimated to the nearest hundred). Ph.D. Employment 28000 -18000 ~ tt800 In 1987, approximately 13 percent of nuclear engineers in the civilian labor force (or about 1,500 persons) held Ph.D. degrees. The distribution of employment for nuclear engineering Ph.D.s in 1987 is as follows: 38 percent were employed in DOE laboratories, 37 percent in business, industries, and utilities, 13 percent in educational institutions, and 12 percent in
30 government, nonprofit, and other organizations (OSEP, 1987). Currently, there is a stable market for nuclear engineering doctorates, with the power reactor sector playing a modest role. Throughout the 1980s, about 12 percent of the graduates in nuclear engineering obtained doctoral degrees (Engineering Manpower Commission, 1980- 1988). Employment of nuclear engineers holding Ph.D. degrees is expected to follow total nuclear engineering employment, that is, to remain at current levels under the low-growth scenario and increase proportionally under the high-growth and best-estimate scenarios. Most jobs for nuclear engineers with federal agencies and their contractors require U.S. citizenship or security clearances, or both. Since only about one-half of today's graduating Ph.D.s in nuclear engineering are U.S. citizens, these requirements could be cause for concern, especially under the high-growth scenario. PROJECTED DEMAND FOR NUCLEAR ENGINEERS In this study demand is defined as the annual new hiring requirement as determined by projected increases in the level of employment plus expected losses due to attrition (retirement, deaths, etc.) and transfers to management and to jobs for which nuclear engineering skills are not required. In its demand forecast, the committee assumed a replacement rate of 3.5 percent of current employment rate. This estimate has been derived from assessments conducted by ORAU's Labor and Policy Study Program using historical data and age profiles from the Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the National Science Foundation's surveys of scientists and engineers (see Appendix E). The current demand distribution for nuclear engineers from the employment data for 1988 graduates is shown in Table 3-5. The Department of Energy and Its Contractors ORAU has estimated the number of annual job openings for nuclear engineers within DOE and its contractors for both the high-growth and best-estimate scenarios (see Table 3-6~. The committee prepared an additional low-growth estimate, which assumes a 3.5-percent replacement rate and no change in the level of employment. Other Government Agencies and Contractors Since the committee assumed that nuclear engineering employment in non-DOE federal agencies other than DOE, the military services, and related contractor services would all remain relatively constant over the period the study covered for all three scenarios (except for the SDIO), the demand for this
31 sector is also projected to remain constant at 70 nuclear engineers per year (with a 3.5-percent replacement rate for the 1,970 personnel). TABLE 3-5 Placement of 1988 Graduates with Degrees or Equivalent Options in Nuclear Engineering (in percents Degree Placement B.S. M.S. Ph.D. Nuclear utility 13 14 6 Other industrial 15 9 12 DOE contractors 2 3 14 U.S. academic 2 2 18 Federal government 5 3 12 Continued study 24 36 7 U.S. military 16 10 3 Unknown 18 10 4 Foreign employment - 8 19 All other 4 5 5 a Totals may not equal 100 because of rounding. SOURCE: U.S. Department of Energy (1989~. TABLE 3-6 Actual and Projected Job Openings Annually for New Nuclear Engineering Graduates at DOE and DOE Contractors, 1987-2010 High-Growth Best Low-Growth Year Estimate Estimate Estimate 1987 60 60 60 1995 440 270 60 2000 360 150 60 2005 350 130 60 2010 6S0 130 60 SOURCE: ORAU.
32 As in the employment forecast, the SDIO demand for nuclear engineers is considered only in the high-growth scenario. In this scenario, SDIO employment forecast data are used with the demand equation (eq.43 in Appendix E, yielding the following projected annual SDIO demand: 10 nuclear engineers in the year 1995, 80 in the year 2000, 230 in the year 2005, and 170 in the year 2010. The best data the committee could obtain on the annual demand for uniformed military personnel with nuclear engineering degrees did not allow an exact count but it is estimated to be relatively small compared to nuclear engineering enrollments. For purposes of this study, it is assumed that this demand will remain constant over the study period. The Navy's Nuclear Propulsion Program trains approximately 650 college-educated officers each year for service in the nuclear fleet. Some come from Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC) programs at various universities. Others are graduates of the military academies or receive equivalent training at the Navy's in-house training facilities. Civilian Nuclear Power Industry The final component of the demand projection results from assumptions about the resurgence of civilian nuclear power. Applying the demand model of Appendix E to the civilian nuclear power forecast of Table 3-3 yields the estimated demand for this sector shown in Table 3-7. TABLE 3-7 Actual and Projected Annual Demand for Nuclear Engineers in the Civilian Nuclear Power Sector, 1987-2010 Year Scenario __ High Growth Best Estimate Low Growth 1987280280 280 1995280280 280 2000620280 280 20051,090620 280 20101,3301,090 280 Consolidated Demand Forecast Applying the demand model of Appendix E to the forecast for industry and government nuclear engineering employment results in the forecasts of total
33 demand shown in Figure 3-2 (see Tables E-6 and E-7~. Both low-growth and high-growth scenarios are considered less likely than the best estimate, but suggest some limits. Because the best estimate projection leaves out some components of demand, the committee believes the best estimate is somewhat conservative and that actual demand could be higher. Even so, the best- estimate projection forecasts a growing demand that increases beyond the year 2000. Shortages should be anticipated and adequate remedial programs initiated in time to educate recruits (five to six years for B.S. graduates, seven to eight years for M.S.s and nine to ten years for the Ph.D.s). ~4 ~2 2 1.8 LL I i. 1.4 - C z C: As 1.6 L2 0.8 0.6 0.4 0.2 / ~60Q - / aft / - / / / / ~0 'I /= ~ Befits- o4~B o400-- oath / / / / O- 1 1 1 1 1990 1995 2000 2005 2010 o LOW GROWTH YEAR +BEST ESTIMATE o HIGH GROWTH FIGURE 3-2 Projected annual demand for civilian nuclear engineers in government and industry, 1990-2010, for three scenarios (estimated to the nearest hundred). >2200 1300 ~400
34 FINDINGS In summary the committee reached the following findings o From 1990 to 1995 the demand for nuclear engineers in the United States will be largely driven by DOE program initiatives. Beyond the turn of the century, the principal driver of demand is expected to be the number of nuclear power plants in service, under construction, and undergoing life extensions. o The committee's best-estimate projection indicates an increase by 1995 by as much as 50 percent above the annual demand for nuclear engineers but about 25 percent greater demand in 2000 (based on current figures). The best- estimate projection envisions a doubling or trebling of current demand between 2000 and 2010.