A new Labour Forecasting Tool (LFT) launched today is predicting around 13,000 new workers could be needed in the nuclear sector by 2028.

The new resource, the “first of its kind” to focus on the engineering construction industry (ECI), provides insights into workforce numbers across regions and sectors, including nuclear, up to 2035, predicting trends and potential future demand for workers.

It predicts the demand for new workers across the engineering construction industry by 2028 is much higher than previously thought. This includes mechanical and electrical engineers, scaffolders, process engineers, project managers, pipefitters, welders, and instrument and control technicians.

The LFT has been developed by the Engineering Construction Industry Training Board (ECITB) and Whole Life Consultants with the support of a technical reference group comprising key industry stakeholders.

The tool has been created using insights from the ECITB 2021 Workforce Census and data from 1,500 active and future ECI projects.

Among its initial findings, the LFT shows an increase of almost 30% in demand by 2028 for engineering construction workers in the nuclear sector compared with 2023, with Hinkley Point C and Sizewell C simultaneously expected to boost demand.

The longer-term growth prospects in the sector may depend on the extent to which the development of small modular reactors (SMRs) is ramped up and other projects such as STEP.

ECITB Chief Executive Andrew Hockey said: “The Labour Forecasting Tool is a first of its kind. Using data on this scale has not been done before in the ECI and will enable us to build a picture of future labour needs.

“Our Leading Industry Learning Strategy 2023-25 focuses on tackling the critical challenges and helping industry to prepare for a boom in project activity for engineering construction employers.

“Attracting new entrants is a key priority for industry and the ECITB, which is why half of the ECITB training grant budget is dedicated to new entrants.

“Clearly more needs to be done to address skills shortages and requires a truly collaborative approach with employers, governments, training providers and the ECITB all working together.

“Having this new source of evidence will better inform decision-making about what we do and how we support the industry to address these labour needs.

“The LFT also highlights the importance of the data we get from the ECITB’s workforce Census – our bi-annual survey that goes out to every employer. Next year’s census will help us further refine the tool and the data going forward.”

The LFT is designed as a resource for exploring workforce trends in the ECI, which operates across the oil, gas, renewables, hydrogen, and carbon capture sectors, as well as other process industries, such as chemicals, pharmaceuticals, food processing, water and waste treatment, as well as the nuclear sector.

The current version of the LFT contains forecast demand data by region, sector and occupational group, and is based on publicly available project timelines.

One of the key highlights is that around 40,000 additional workers could be needed across the ECI by 2028, which would represent a 28% increase in demand in the next five years. The tool also shows that nearly 8,000 additional workers could potentially be needed to meet demand in 2024 alone.

In addition to quarterly updates of the underlying project data, updates to the tool will take place after the ECITB 2024 ECI Workforce Census.

Find out more about the Labour Forecasting Tool here: Labour Forecasting Tool Overview – ECITB