News & Insights


YGN Futuresight – Enhanced Skills Leadership, NSSG

It is the YGN's role, as part of the professional body for the nuclear sector, to look ahead, to envisage a better world and a future in which our members and our industry will flourish. A large part of this involves collaborating with industry to help shape the future of our sector.

The Nuclear Sector Deal (NSD) was published in June 2018 and is part of the UK Government’s Industrial Strategy. The Deal sets out the vision for growth of the nuclear industry in the UK with closer collaboration between the industry and Government and is based on five elements. The Nuclear Skills Strategy Group (NSSG), as the Nuclear Industry Skills lead, has been tasked with delivering the People element of the NSD.

The YGN’s mission is “to encourage, develop & inspire the UK’s early career nuclear professionals”. One way in which we strive to meet our mission is by working with the NSSG as a delivery partner for the People element of the NSD. In November 2019, the YGN supported the call for YGN Shadow Theme Leads to work with the existing theme owners at the NSSG and develop the delivery plan for each of the theme areas under People. It has been fantastic to see the Shadow Theme Leads getting involved in supporting the work of the NSSG. This has brought diversity of thought and challenge to the group and is a valuable opportunity for personal and professional development in a leadership role. We plan to develop our relationship with the Shadow Theme Leads to ensure that the outcomes of the NSSG workstreams reflect the YGN’s purpose, to ensure that our exciting industry makes inspiring opportunities accessible to young people

As part of the YGN Futuresight series, we asked the Shadow Theme Leads to tell us more about the exciting plans they have in place for delivering the NSD targets. In this article, Georgina Hines, Policy Analyst at the Nuclear Industry Association, shares with us future plans for her theme area: Enhanced Skills Leadership.

What is important to me?

Now, more than ever, the younger generation are asking this question to themselves. The values we hold are becoming increasingly important in the products we consume, the people we choose to engage with, and the organisations we work for.

A survey done by Amnesty International last year found that climate change was thought to be the most important issue facing the world, voted for by 18-25 year olds. While I have unfortunately just exited this age bracket, it is wholeheartedly something I agree with.

My passion for net zero and fighting climate change is one of the reasons I applied to work at the Nuclear Industry Association - knowing that I would be making a difference to this cause is exactly what I needed. It is a sentiment shared by many of my equals across the nuclear industry, and there is a great amount of enthusiasm from our workforce to communicate how and why our work is important in creating a greener world.

I am not the typical graduate entering the nuclear sector by any stretch of the imagination. Having studied neuroscience at university in the hopes of one day becoming a doctor (this was before I realised my aversion to several bodily fluids), I took a detour and continued my studies, gaining an MSc in Science Communication.

That detour turned out to be the best decision I could have taken, as I have now ended up in the fascinating world of nuclear policy, public affairs and communications – a fast-paced, complex and, at times, challenging area of work.

My unusual background (at least for the nuclear industry) and drive to make a difference led me to apply for a shadowing position in the NSSG, where I am now involved in the delivery of the Enhanced Skills Leadership theme under NSSG Chair Corhyn Parr.

There is no one rule or solution to developing effective leadership, and this is reflected in the approach of the Enhanced Skills Leadership theme. In this article, I will take you through the workstreams of this theme and how each are important to the future of our workforce.

What is the biggest challenge facing the nuclear sector today? Many of you would answer that public perception of nuclear is holding us back, and it may have been doing so since Calder Hall was built back in 1956. And with only 54% of 16-24-year-olds and 43% of 25-34-year-olds agreeing that nuclear is needed to meet the UK’s Net Zero targets (YouGov, 2019), it’s a problem that we cannot ignore when we want to encourage the next generation to join our sector.

That is why an integral part of the Enhanced Skills Leadership theme is ‘Branding’ – how we choose to portray our sector to others. How the public views nuclear is directly linked to successful recruitment outside of the nuclear industry. This isn’t just applicable to the next generation of workers but to those further on in their careers who want to transfer their skills to a new sector. We need to showcase that working in nuclear is sustainable, beneficial and exciting.

One way we have chosen to take action under this workstream is through collaboration with communications and HR professionals in the nuclear sector, who are key to ensuring that we have the skills and diverse teams we need.

The NSSG will be working with such individuals in making sure they have the resources they need, including the development of new guidance and terminology, and the creation of infographics for distribution to our stakeholders for their own use.


Credit: Nuclear Industry Association

Closely linked to branding, is the theme ‘One Voice’, which aims to unify the voice of the nuclear industry to identify workstreams that will be universally beneficial. This summer, a Landscape review of the sector will be published by the NSSG which will define its work going forward, and will help us determine whether we are moving in the right direction and tackling the skills issues that industry is actually facing. Watch this space for that important piece of work. 

This theme also requires a close relationship with the NSD Programme Management Office, which the NSSG established from the very start. Beccy Pleasant and the NSSG team lead on the NSD’s Skills Working Group, which has made considerable progress over the last two years. If you want to find out more about this progress and the group’s activities, please visit the NSD’s website.

Now, you cannot have a conversation about modern-day leadership without talking about ‘Equality, Diversity & Inclusion’ (ED&I). Since the NSSG launched its Gender Roadmap in late-2019, it has attracted commitments and signatures from hundreds of individuals and organisations across the sector. You can also pledge your support to reaching 40% women in nuclear by 2030, here.

Since the roadmap launch, the NSSG and Gender Working Group have been working hard on translating these commitments into actions. More on that to come over the next few months.

When I think about what ED&I means to me, I think about living and working in a world where everyone’s voice is valued, no matter their background. Our industry has made great strides with getting more women into nuclear, particularly in high-skilled roles, and I am proud of that. In the near future I hope to see the sector work towards and meet targets regarding race, sexuality, disability and socio-economic background with the same enthusiasm it has shown with gender.

Lastly, I want to thank Corhyn and Beccy for continuing to support me and the rest of the NSSG Shadow Leads in their activities. When I came into the world of work my overarching goal was to make a difference and to feel like I can do so – both to Net Zero and the future of the nuclear industry - even at the very beginning of my career is incredibly rewarding.