The Savannah River Site’s lead contractor and two historically black South Carolina institutions recently inked a workforce and education agreement that garnered the support of powerful U.S. House Majority Whip James Clyburn.
Terms of the deal struck between Savannah River Nuclear Solutions, the Fluor-led management-and-operations team, and Allen University and Benedict College include tours of the Savannah River Site; job and internship workshops; subject-matter experts serving as mentors and advisers; and the molding of a workforce pipeline with nuclear-savvy programming.
“Since the first day of the contract in 2008,” Savannah River Nuclear Solutions President and CEO Stuart MacVean said, “SRNS has continued to support the valued heritage established at SRS in support of all levels of education throughout the region.”
Savannah River Nuclear Solutions has established more than a dozen similar agreements with local colleges and veterans programs. Outside-the-fence partnerships are not unusual; nearby USC Aiken is a common collaborator.
Benedict College President Roslyn Clark Artis said the new relationship “is a great example of how we can work with area companies and organizations to provide a broad array of services and opportunities for our students while simultaneously helping to fuel the economy.”
In a separate statement, Clyburn, a Democrat representing the state’s 6th Congressional District, applauded the pacts and their sway.
“An internship can be a game-changer that opens doors, builds experience and offers an excellent test-drive for both students and employers,” Clyburn said. “This is an outstanding, comprehensive effort to prepare students for the many current and future career opportunities right here in South Carolina, at the Savannah River Site.”
Approximately 11,000 people work at the Savannah River Site, a 310-square-mile sprawl home to myriad nuclear waste and weapons missions. The site has for decades been a major economic engine for both South Carolina and neighboring Georgia.
Clyburn earlier this year rendezvoused with Savannah River Site officials and representatives from Palmetto State HBCUs. The congressman’s attempts to forge and fortify such bonds could ultimately lead to a much more diverse nuclear workforce.
A majority of the Savannah River Nuclear Solutions workforce is white. Employee diversity – of race, age and more – is something the contractor is focused on and aims to promote and improve.
“Our MOU with SRNS directly aligns with Benedict’s strategic plan and commitment to produce a highly skilled minority talent pool for the region’s workforce,” Artis said.
The Post and Courier, September 15, 2020.