AIKEN, S.C., (June 11, 2018) – Career counselors from Bamberg, Barnwell and Allendale County Public Schools recently attended a special tour of the Savannah River Site (SRS).
The tour was developed to help them answer student questions about careers at the large industrial complex of nuclear and non-nuclear facilities owned by the Department of Energy.
The counselors visited the site training facility and the Salt Waste Processing Facility, as well as participating in an extensive driving tour featuring the Savannah River National Laboratory, Savannah River Ecology Laboratory, F Canyon and the Defense Waste Processing Facility.
“You really have to tour the site and get involved in presentations, employment statistics and discussions to begin to grasp just how great the potential is for a career at SRS,” said Kimberly Mitchell, Savannah River Nuclear Solutions (SRNS) Education Outreach.
Mitchell explained that the first step is to raise local educators’ level of knowledge about SRS, who then act as conduits to reach area students. “It’s not just the careers within nuclear operations, jobs that typically first come to mind,” said Mitchell. “We want them to know we have research scientists, mechanics, accountants, electricians, administration professionals, crane operators, lab techs, engineers, HR and computer science professionals. The list of hourly and professional positions is extensive.”
Last year alone, more than 500 new employees were hired by the largest company at SRS, Savannah River Nuclear Solutions. Hiring is expected to continue for many years as a large percentage of SRS employees become eligible to retire.
Valuable data provided to touring counselors included SRNS employees hired last year by career field. “Projecting the hiring of a similar number of employees next year in each type of occupation is realistic,” stated Mitchell. “This is practical information students can use to make an informed decision regarding the expected job market.”
During the tour, SRS officials also provided information to ensure the counselors understood the partnership between SRS companies and local universities and colleges, primarily Aiken Technical College, Augusta Technical College and the University of South Carolina Aiken.
"Everyone at SRS is always so helpful and in tune with what high school students need to know," said Cathy Smith, Williston Elko High School. "SRNS completely laid out for us the specifics of what careers they are looking for, what the requirements are and how much of a demand there is. We need to promote this to our students on a regular basis."
Helping the career counselors assist the students is where the “rubber meets the road,” where the most impact can be obtained for the benefit of the students as well as local industry.
“By working closely with these career guidance professionals, I think we grow our local citizens for jobs, especially at SRS. That’s why I think this tour is so important,” said Mitchell.
"Three years ago, I had an internship at SRS, and I can honestly say that the tour really opened my eyes to the work being done and the countless opportunities for future employees," said Rhonda Farmer, Allendale High School. "The idea that a two-year degree can get many of our students in the door is exciting to say the least."
Savannah River Nuclear Solutions is a Fluor-led company whose members are Fluor Federal Services, Newport News Nuclear and Honeywell, responsible for the management and operations of the Department of Energy’s Savannah River Site, including the Savannah River National Laboratory, located near Aiken, South Carolina.