An investigation into the forecasting of skills in nuclear decommissioning

Grabrovaz, Meaghan (2017) An investigation into the forecasting of skills in nuclear decommissioning. Doctoral thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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This study explores the nature of skills forecasting in nuclear decommissioning and that which makes skills forecasting information useful. The study adopts a pragmatic approach using an interpretative, qualitative case study research design and draws on aspects of a critical realist approach to uncover, deconstruct and challenge some ‘norms’ in skills forecasting. The study makes an original contribution to knowledge through the identification of nineteen factors that influence skills forecasting in the nuclear industry. It also generates a baseline of knowledge on the theory and practice of skills forecasting and management through a review of the literature on skills, forecasting, skills forecasting and workforce planning and relevant aspects of public sector management and HRM. The study documents and compares current skills forecasting practice amongst UK site licensed companies and selected supply chain companies. Such research has not previously been conducted in the nuclear decommissioning industry. This answers research questions about why, and how, different groups in the sector perform skills forecasting and how variations in approaches affect the information produced. It also answers research questions about who uses skills forecasting information, and how. Together with a review of current problems with skills information, this contributes to an understanding of what makes skills information useful. The research evidences that while the industry has some common features with other High Reliability Organisations, there are unique dimensions which make this research significant. Some ‘norms’ operating in skills forecasting were challenged including how it is being used, eg as an agent for change by some groups, and assumptions about the potential availability of skills from the supply chain. The literature review was used to construct a practical-ideal type, an approach derived from classical pragmatism offering a version of a nearly ideal process, on the understanding that this is socially constructed and subject to continual change. Existing practice is evaluated against this practical-ideal type in a unique application of this methodology in the nuclear decommissioning context.

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