Comment: How destination nuclear aims to double the UK's nuclear workforce

Lynne Matthews, programme lead for Destination Nuclear, explains how this ambitious industry-wide programme aims to drive recruitment into the civil and defence nuclear sectors across the UK.

Domestic nuclear capability is critical for both the nation's defence and energy security, and the UK’s nuclear sector stands at a pivotal yet exciting juncture point.

In January 2024, the UK government launched a roadmap to generate 25 per cent of the UK’s energy through nuclear power by 2050, confirming its commitment to advancing the nuclear energy industry. Simultaneously, the commitment to maintain the Continuous at Sea Deterrent and the Submarine forces, including working with Australia and the US to deliver AUKUS, continues to accelerate demand for labour in the nuclear defence industry.

We want to raise awareness and drive consideration of the potential employment opportunities in the nuclear sector.

To support the sector’s unprecedented expansion and help to deliver against the UK’s nuclear ambition, the Government, sector organisations and educational institutions joined forces to launch Destination Nuclear, a collaborative cross-sector programme to help attract and recruit more people into nuclear. The campaign aims to double the workforce in size over the next 20 years, supporting 80,000 additional skilled jobs across the UK to meet the burgeoning demand on the sector.  

Acutely linked to the skills shortage in the sector, is the fundamental lack of awareness about the available roles and benefits this sector has to offer, which is something we are working hard to address through this campaign. As part of our long-term strategy, we want to raise awareness and drive consideration of the potential employment opportunities in the nuclear sector. Contrary to perception, there is a whole range of diverse opportunities for individuals from construction to business management, trades and manufacturing to operations and project management. Furthermore, as a leading sector in technological advancements, workers will have the opportunity to engage with the newest most innovative technology, with roles available in AI and robotics.

Through Destination Nuclear, we hope to shine a light on the wealth of opportunities for personal and professional growth. The programme is designed to target and attract experienced workers who possess transferable skills and are considering entering a new sector or rejoining the workforce, bringing with them a wealth of knowledge, diverse experience and fresh perspectives to the sector. In addition to that we are committed to supporting apprenticeships, graduate schemes and PhD students who are looking to enter a fast-paced environment, and we currently have a number of brilliant apprentices working across defence and civil organisations. What’s more, given the strategic importance of the sector and the Government’s large-scale investment in nuclear, the sector provides long-term job security, which is a huge draw for potential talent in today’s challenging economic climate.

Metrology work underway at the Nuclear AMRC - Nuclear AMRC

Another focus for this campaign has been the ambition to boost regional and local employment with roles in nuclear available across the country. For example, recent investment into the nuclear submarine industry and the newbuild energy programme are forecast to create thousands of job opportunities across England, Scotland and Wales. Similarly, by raising awareness of opportunities through this programme to such a broad audience, we hope to attract workers from a diverse range of backgrounds to improve the equality, diversion and inclusion of the sector offering social mobility benefits.

The UK’s nuclear industry is on the cusp of a transformative expansion that will not only contribute to the nation's energy and defence security but will also offer a wealth of opportunities to workers from so many backgrounds. 

This programme is a focal point for the nuclear sector as a whole to attract, recruit and retain the skilled workforce that is necessary to realise the full potential of nuclear power in the UK. By raising awareness, unpacking misconceptions and highlighting the benefits of working in the nuclear industries, this programme is poised to support the new era of growth, innovation and investment for the UK nuclear sector. 

Lynne Matthews is Programme Lead for Destination Nuclear

To find out more about Destination Nuclear or career options available in the sector, visit