Magazine article Personnel Journal

Proactive People Planning Helps Nuclear Unit Thrive

Magazine article Personnel Journal

Proactive People Planning Helps Nuclear Unit Thrive

Article excerpt

Harnessing and directing nuclear power is one of the most powerful processes on earth. It's also one of the most sophisticated. But harnessing the right talent to work on this process has become increasingly more difficult as new technologies require employees to apply advanced skills and abilities.

For Duke Power Co.'s nuclear businesses (three nuclear stations with seven reactors), taking a new look at workforce planning has made a lot of sense in staffing for the future. "In the past, we'd basically say, `I'm short four operators.' And we'd go to human resources and say, 'I need some people.' There really was no planning for the workforce at all other than needing a certain amount of people," says Mike Tuckman, senior VP of nuclear generation for Duke Power. Now, thanks to the company's new workforce-planning model, more thought is given to how the business will get the right people when it needs them.

A key reason why the nuclear units needed a better handle on staffing has resulted from the business's downsizing over the past five years. In addition to downsizing its other businesses, Duke has reduced the number of staff in the nuclear business from 5,800 to 4,350 people since 1991. But when the company tried to transfer some downsized workers from other areas of the company into it's nuclear operations, it fell upon some interesting problems. For example, while internal applicants were willing to try new career paths, they tended to be mid-lifers who would be retirement age before they could reach supervisory level. The typical term between entry-level and supervisor of nuclear operations is 10 to 19 years-too long to wait for most career-changers.

"Using the workforce-planning model, we did a detailed analysis of the work that needed to be done-its physical and mental requirements with some [other] characteristics we were looking for in supervisors," says Tuckman. They looked at the demographics of the workforce and projected the loss rate-when people would either retire or leave the organization. "We came to the conclusion that even though the company as a whole was downsizing, we wouldn't meet our needs by continuing to transfer people in at an entry level within operations," he adds.

The solution? Rather than continue to hire high-school grads, who typically had filled nonlicensed operator positions in the past, the company decided to recruit and hire technical school graduates or ex-Navy nuclear operators instead. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.