Can nuclear power plants create jobs? You bet they can.
A recent post on The Energy Collective blog demonstrates how manufacturing can, and must, be part of the future. In an op-ed posted on the blog, North American Young Generation President Elizabeth McAndrew-Benavides makes the argument that investment nuclear plants will spark a rise in the number of skilled-labor manufacturing jobs needed, and that these jobs will be long-lasting and sustainable.
McAndrew-Benavides opens with the same sad story of American manufacturing that we've been recapitulating since well before the recession began. However, she finds new hope in the nuclear industry, calling it "a narrative where job growth in the skilled trades is on an ipward trend and the industry can serve as a role model for the revitalization of the U.S. manufacturing sector through the creation of new careers and economic expansion."
McAndrew-Benavides claims that 15,000 jobs have been created in the nuclear sector over the past three years...but she doesn't call them jobs, they're careers.
Why? She explains:
The industry is keeping close track of the job openings and student enrollments to ensure that the pipeline of new workers fits the number of careers available. The industry has set up partnerships with 43 community colleges across the country and implemented what's known as a uniform cirriculum program to ensure that the proper educating and training of the next generation of nuclear industry workers is done in a cohesive manner. The past May, the first graduates of this program at Chattanooga State and Salem Community College in New Jersey moved into careers with average salaries ranging from $66,000-to$72,000 a year. Since nuclear plants operate for up to 60 years, it's as close to a lifetime guarantee as possible.
However, if job creation alone isn't, for whatever reason, enough of an incentive to invest in nuclear energy manufacturing in the United States, the economy at large and our national security should be.
AAM Executive Director Scott Paul reflected on the notion of nuclear energy manufacturing in the Huffington Post this past spring. He warned of the potential dangers that the U.S. would face should we allow ourselves to become dependent on other nations in the clean renewables and nuclear energy manufacturing sector.
If the Administration is willing to pony up more than $8 billion for two nuclear reactors, Congress had better make sure they are safe and made in America. Combining outsourcing with nuclear safety is dangerous chemistry -- and risky politics.