Experts have warned of an increasing skills gap in the nuclear engineering sector that needs to be tackled if government plans for more stations go ahead.

Many nuclear experts in the UK are approaching retirement age, so the gap for skilled labour is growing. Less than 6% of nuclear industry workers are under 24, and there is a need for an extra 1,000 graduates a year over the next 15 years to meet the government’s targets.

A spokesperson for the Institution of Engineering and Technology said not enough universities provided nuclear-focused courses. He said: “Setting up things like these takes time. It doesn’t happen overnight, but these issues need to be addressed.”

However, some experts have claimed that the skills shortage in the nuclear engineering sector may be exaggerated, as projects only require minimal input from specialist staff.

David Kerr, chairman of the energy panel at the Institution of Civil Engineers, has warned that shortages of materials may also be an issue given rapidly expanding nuclear programmes abroad, particularly in India and China.