Careers in the nuclear industry have been in the shadows for a long time… but there’s some exciting energy around them in Normandy. Two major projects have seen a rise in vacancies for anyone who wants to be part of expanding an independent and decarbonised energy sector! Let’s find out more.

Normandy, a hotbed for the nuclear industry

Penly nuclear power plant

Nuclear submarine construction, energy production, waste treatment, medicine and more. From EDF to Orano and the many subcontractors involved in making it happen, the nuclear industry now employs up to 28,000 people in Normandy. In terms of production, Normandy has 8 working nuclear reactors and accounts for 12-14% of electricity generation in France with 4% of electricity use. The well-managed low-carbon energy has nowhere to go but up in the next few years.

There are two major projects coming in 2024

Out of everything happening in the region, there are two significant projects starting in 2024. The first is, of course, the EPR2: the building of new reactors, the first two being in Penly in the Dieppe region. The Seine-Maritime town is piloting the new EPRs (European pressurised water reactors) that are part of the national programme, with on-site recruitment peaking at up to 7000 jobs.

Penly nuclear power plant

The other major project is the Grand Carénage: the programme involves work to secure nuclear fleet operations for the future. These heavy maintenance inspections occur every 10 years for every sector (corresponding to one nuclear reactor) peaking at 3000 people per site. The Normandy sector will start at the Paluel site in Seine-Maritime for phase 2 to continue beyond 40 years and reach 50 years of operations.
Both projects will be recruiting for a 10 year period from 2024, with a total of up to 14,700 new employees!

A variety of trades

Studio 911
INSTN school - Cherbourg

These major projects require a wide variety of trades: project management, civil engineering, logistics and transport, digital, metalworking, life cycle management and nuclear engineering to name but a few. Out of over 120 careers in the industry, 80 are particularly short-staffed, including some that also cover other industries. Out of the twenty most in-demand trades, some are even more essential depending on the construction stage.

  • Between summer 2024 and the end of 2026, people involved in earthworks will be in very high demand to clear the area ready to build on: machine operators, field experts (in charge of helping the fitter complete their tasks in safety), pipeline contractors etc.
  • The site will be in the civil engineering phase from mid-2026 and peaking in 2028/2029. Works managers, site managers, team leaders, crane operators, form setters, reinforcing ironworkers and more will be in demand until 2031-2032.
  • Welders, boilermakers, pipe fitters, electricians, electrical engineers and more will be sought-after around 2028.

NB: initial recruitment and training will begin in September 2024 for earthworks positions.

Nuclear training in Normandy: courses for everyone

From NVQs to Master’s degrees, uranium mining to nuclear reprocessing and plant operation, companies in the industry, including EDF and Orano, have designed courses to meet their requirements in partnership with training centres. The area has several colleges and up to 117 specific courses to provide the resources and skills the industry needs to close the talent gap.
Just take the 12 IUMM training centres focusing on metalworking, HEFAïS welding college and INSTN, the National Institute for Nuclear Science and Technology in Cherbourg-en-Cotentin. In Dieppe itself, Lycée Pablo Neruda and Lycée d’émulation dieppoise introduce young adults to the nuclear sector with the nuclear environment HND, a vocational degree in nuclear facility operations and a mechanical valve engineer HND.
The area is home to engineering schools too, including ISEN Yncréa in Caen, Ecam in Cherbourg and ENSAM in Le Havre. Last but not least, the University of Caen teaches a variety of specialist courses including nuclear safety.

Nuclear courses in Normandy

Map in French bellow:

A collective project

Orientation conference - Agence de l'orientation et des métiers

The industry needs to attract jobseekers: people who want to change career as well as young adults who want to work in the industry. It will also have to work on diversity to promote its careers. Women should be a prime focus as they only account for 24% of the sector and 27% in the industry. With this in mind, the Normandy Region has joined forces with the Local Education Authority and Agence Régionale de l’Orientation et des Métiers to support the France 2030/Skills and future professions campaign. The project is called 3NC (Normandy Nuclear, New Skills) and will enhance the appeal of Normandy. It will encourage young adults and people looking to change career to train in nuclear trades and make it an industry for the future once again.

Good to know

  • Université des métiers du nucléaire : PThe Université des Métiers du Nucléaire was founded to secure the nuclear industry’s future and power up training programmes in the nuclear sector on a regional, inter-regional and national basis, primarily in vital skills. Why? To bring together everyone involved in training, employment and business in the industry, both nationally and regionally, to uphold consistency and relevance at every level. Visit the website for a full list of nuclear courses in Normandy (website in French).
  • France Travail (formerly Pôle Emploi) : the teams at France Travail have a key role to play in redirecting talent to high-demand positions (welder, electrician, boilermaker etc.) with the help of the job simulation recruitment process.
  • The Agence de l’Orientation et des Métiers launched a digital escape game for nuclear trades. The 2-stage Objectif MEGAWATT escape game immerses players in life at a nuclear power plant, from its design to waste management. The 2 games use puzzles and riddles to explore 16 nuclear trades:
    Game 1: Project leader, BIM engineer, simulation engineer, designer, thermal insulation engineer, demolition contractor, valve engineer, welder.
    Game 2: Nuclear measurement engineer, business manager, production operator, chemical engineer, decommissioning engineer, waste technician, environmental research manager, logistics technician.
  • Normandy currently produces 13% of electricity in France and consumes around 4%. Whilst electricity consumption will probably have risen by 40% nationwide in the next 20 years, Normandy will produce 20% of electricity in France (source: RTE) with 11 nuclear plants (including 3 EPRs) and 5 offshore wind farms.
    Normandy has a key role to play in training the future electricity generation in France. In the same vein, it will also play a decisive role in the success of major nationwide transitions and will significantly help revitalise industry in France.
Projet nucléaire en Normandie

Was this content helpful?