DOE Grant Gives Major Boost to Training Local Workforce
In May 2015 the Department of Energy awarded $994,000 to the Savannah River Site Community Reuse Organization (SRSCRO) for continued support of training programs developed under a Department of Energy grant titled “Advancing Nuclear Skills Regionally (ANSR).” The training programs were created and implemented in response to a study that showed the local demand for nuclear workers could grow to 10,000 over the next decade. The grant, now in its fifth year and totaling $4.8 million, is administered by the Nuclear Workforce Initiative (NWI®) and overseen by the SRSCRO.
Grant funds are being shared by Aiken Technical College, Augusta Technical College, Georgia Regents University – Augusta, University of South Carolina Aiken and University of South Carolina Salkehatchie. This is the first time that area colleges from both sides of the Savannah River have collaborated on a grant. The achievement demonstrates the institutions’ strong commitment to regional workforce development.
The five colleges and the SRSCRO are also partnering with the Department of Energy in the areas of science, technology, engineering, mathematics and research for the DOE Environmental Management program through a formal Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). The MOU acknowledges a long-term goal of expanding opportunities for joint work and support.
Training Programs supported by the grant are:
- Aiken Technical College
- Associate of Applied Science in Nuclear Quality Systems and Nuclear Welding Certificate
- Augusta Technical College
- Chemical Technology Associate of Applied Science Degree and Nuclear Career Advisement
- Georgia Regents University – Augusta
- Nuclear Science Tracks in Chemistry and Physics Degree Programs
- University of South Carolina Aiken
- Environmental Remediation and Restoration Biology Specialized Degree
- University of South Carolina Salkehatchie
- Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Programs
Local impact from these programs is clearly evident as each institution is attracting students and producing graduates. As of June 2015, ANSR training programs have enrolled 600 college students. Already, 150 students have graduated from ANSR grant supported programs and are entering the workforce. STEM programs developed through ANSR have reached more than 3200 students.
These training programs are important to the region because of increasing nuclear workforce needs. Long-term nuclear workforce demand is growing in the region as new nuclear reactors are under construction at V.C. Summer Nuclear Station in Fairfield County, SC, and at Plant Vogtle in Waynesboro, GA. New facilities are also under construction at the Department of Energy’s Savannah River Site.
In many cases the nuclear industry’s highly skilled workforce is preparing to retire, also increasing workforce demand. It is estimate that about half of the industry’s workforce will be eligible to retire during the next 10 years across the nation. Training new workers has become an industry priority nationwide.
The NWI® works closely with partners in business, academia, economic development and state and local governments to ensure local citizens have an opportunity to develop the skills they need to fill these future jobs.