Diversity and STEM Creating Innovative US Nuclear Energy Workforce

Areva Inc. CEO Mike RencheckBy Mike Rencheck, CEO, AREVA Inc. North America

On September 24, 2013, I joined a panel convened by the Department of Energy to emphasize our shared commitment to diversity and encourage a greater engagement of minorities in the energy sector. The Minorities in Energy Initiative expands the national dialogue on economic development, STEM education, and climate change, and will advance our country’s ability to meet America’s critical economic and security needs. Our workforce must be proficient in science, technology, engineering and math education (STEM) to lead the world in twenty-first century industries, like the energy industry.

At the moment, America is not ready to lead. The U.S. will have over 1 million job openings in STEM-related fields by 2018. And yet, we are not graduating nearly enough college STEM majors to meet the demand. For example, 4 million ninth grade students enroll in STEM courses, but only 4.2% (167,000) graduate college with a STEM degree. Another sobering statistic: By 2016, 39% of the nuclear energy workforce will be eligible for retirement.

Clean, safe, reliable energy is inextricably linked to the sustainable prosperity of the American economy. The strengthening and sustainability of an innovative American energy workforce is, therefore, a topic of national importance. Diversity and its varied personal perspectives are essential to innovation and the competitive advantage it brings.

I am proud to say that AREVA Inc. is aggressively focused on building a diverse and innovative American clean energy workforce. Our current employment rate for entry-level engineers (Level I&II) is 19% female and 22% ethnic minority, totaling 41%. We’re accomplishing these new hire ratios and building a diverse STEM workforce through multiple initiatives:

  1. AREVA is engaging and collaborating with community leaders
      • AREVA is a member of the CASEnergy Business Labor and Minority Steering Committee
      • Preceding the Baltimore Grand Prix, AREVA and the Nuclear Clean Air Energy IndyCar team (video) collaborated with Morgan State University and STEMconnector on an event bringing together military veterans, students and local Girl Scouts in support of STEM education and to raise awareness of career opportunities in clean energy.
  2. AREVA is expanding workforce development to educate leaders of tomorrow’s energy industry
      • AREVA’s university relations strategy engages minority-focused on-campus engineering societies, including Society of Women Engineers (SWE), Women in Nuclear (WiN), National Society of Black Engineer’s (NSBE), Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers (SASE), and Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE)
      • Earlier this year, AREVA sponsored two weeklong Explore Engineering programs at Sweet Briar College, which introduced high school girls to engineering concepts and potential STEM careers.
      • Aiken Technical College: AREVA provided $3,000 in scholarships
      • University of South Carolina Aiken: AREVA contributed $1,000 to the Compass Leadership Program and Minority Achievement Program, which both benefit minority students
      • James E. Clyburn Research & Scholarship Foundation: AREVA donated $5,000 for college scholarships
  3. AREVA’s supply chain provides economic opportunity for small and minority business concerns
      • Through AREVA’s supplier diversity program and in collaboration with our customers and community stakeholders, we are committed to partnering with qualified diverse suppliers to supply products and services to our company and the energy industry

Our forward-looking energy vision places AREVA at the forefront of a daily nuclear energy renewal rooted in our diverse workforce and our responsibility to put safety first and foremost in everything that we do. Innovation is all about people, and AREVA employees develop and deploy innovative solutions every day to meet customers’ needs.

AREVA is hiring and building an American workforce vital to tomorrow’s economy, and we are proud to support the next generation of industry leaders through active participation in the Minorities in Energy Initiative.