AIKEN, S.C. - The Department of Energy’s managing and operating contractor at the Savannah River Site, Savannah River Nuclear Solutions (SRNS), hired more than 80 new operators in April. The majority of the new hires are from the local area, and their arrival helps the company address workforce sustainment needs created by current and expected attrition.
“Many of our new hires are from programs and schools that partner with SRNS through our training and education outreach programs,” said Wyatt Clark, Senior Vice President of Environmental Management Operations. “In fact, 12 operators are coming out of the Nuclear Engineering Technology program SRNS has established with Augusta Technical College. It is satisfying to know that not only are we getting the trained, quality workers we need, but we are also helping our neighbors and friends by hiring locally.”
Jake Jones, who will be working in H Area, is from Warrenville, S.C. He has several family members who already work at SRS. “I already have experience in operations from a previous job,” he said. “But I was looking for better career opportunities and heard SRS was the place to be.”
Job assignments for the new operators vary by the area where they are assigned, but include such tasks as rigging, nuclear material handling, and transport and nuclear material monitoring. Complete training of the new operators will take approximately two years to complete, depending on their job assignment.
Bryan Depew is from Barnwell, S.C. and has a degree in the engineering field from Aiken Technical College. “I wanted a career I could use my degree for,” he said.
“We need these employees to address workforce sustainment,” said Clark. “Hiring and retaining quality employees are concerns across the DOE complex because of the number of long-time employees who are becoming eligible for retirement. We expect to see approximately 50 percent of our workers retire within the next five years. The new operators will help ensure that a pipeline of qualified operators is available to replace the outgoing employees.”
Clark said that hiring will need to continue in order to ensure staffing levels remain adequate to perform mission essential work safely. To this end, SRNS and Aiken Technical College have partnered to create a Nuclear Fundamentals Certificate Program, similar to the program at Augusta Technical College. The first graduates are expected to complete the program in October 2016.
“SRNS has taken several different steps, and plan for several more, to improve workforce sustainment,” he said. “Some of these efforts include helping make SRS a compelling place to work and addressing knowledge retention from long term to new employees.”