Energoatom has a sufficient number of high-skilled professionals for new ambitious targets fulfillment
A new stage in the development of the nuclear industry, increasing the safety and efficiency of nuclear power plants, has begun to implement the tasks of reducing carbon emissions and decarbonizing the world economy. After all, it is the type of environmentally friendly generation that can reliably replace thermal generation in the shortest possible time.
Ukraine is no exception and is an active participant in this process. Projects for the new nuclear power units construction in Ukraine have found support in the United States. Relevant strategic agreements of Energoatom with US partners, in particular with Westinghouse, were recorded during the visit of the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy to the United States in early September. In fact, a new stage in the development of the domestic Energoatom is taking place from this date, and one of the crucial tasks now is to construct another power unit at the Khmelnytskyy nuclear power plant, four new power units at the Zaporizhzhya, Rivne and South Ukrainian NPPs, as well as power units based on small modular reactors to replace decommissioned TPPs.
Assuredly, the implementation of such large-scale projects requires appropriate staffing – high-end professionals and top category specialists. Even though currently Energoatom has a sufficient number of such specialists (out of 34,000 employees, 75% have a qualification in nuclear engineering) and President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy at a meeting with US businessmen commended their professionalism, calling them «the world's best nuclear power workers he trusts», there is a need for continuous training and upgrading of skills, especially for the effective use of the US technologies in the domestic nuclear industry. Therefore, Energoatom, together with partners from the United States, is already planning large-scale exchange programs for specialists – designers, projecting engineers, construction workers, engineers, operational staff, etc.
It also refers to teaching Ukrainian students from specialized universities to new US technologies in the nuclear industry. The training will include not only a theory but also simulator sessions in engineering offices and on Westinghouse sites, where AP-1000 power units are being built and put into operation. Currently, almost 2,600 students are mastering «nuclear» technical specialties in Ukrainian universities. In 2021, the number of students who went to study in such specialties has almost doubled year-on-year.
«The world's nuclear power industry is currently short of skilled staff. That is why Ukrainian specialists are in great demand, they are invited to work in many different countries,» states Energoatom’s Executive Director for Human Resources Oleh Boyaryntsev.
«As far back as two years ago, there was a high risk of losing a significant number of engineers,» he said. «Thus, during 2014–2019, more than 1,100 employees left Ukraine to work at nuclear power plants in Russia, Belarus, Turkey, China and other countries, of which about 90 are highly qualified staff.
In 2018-2019, the situation was extremely precarious: there was a threat of a shortage of licensed nuclear specialists in Ukraine, especially NPP operational personnel.»
In 2020, Energoatom’s new leadership along with its trade union managed to overcome the negative trend of losing high-end professionals, and in the last two years, none of them went abroad for better earnings.
Oleh Boyaryntsev attributes this fact primarily to ensuring a decent remuneration rate for domestic NPP personnel: «Last year, salaries were increased by a total of 24%: during the year the minimum tariff rate was changed to higher four times, while from January 1, 2021 it was increased by another 16%. Almost a third of the company's employees (11.5 thousand) used health resort treatment, for which Energoatom allocated UAH 185 million. The Company's Union contract, prescribing numerous measures of social support for employees, was fulfilled 100% in 2020 and the first half of 2021.»
Currently, Energoatom is one of the most reliable and responsible employers in Ukraine, which guarantees decent working conditions, safety and well-being to its employees. For comparison: the average salary of production and technical personnel (i.e. the key middle-level personnel who are directly responsible for the operation of power units) in the Company is 14% higher than the average salary in Rosatom.
The company makes every effort to retain existing staff and high-end professionals, involve and adapt young hopefuls, provide professional development and social protection to all its employees, launch new training programs to be implemented with international partners.