IDAHO FALLS, Idaho – Fluor Idaho, EM’s cleanup contractor at DOE’s Idaho Site, recently welcomed 16 interns for the summer with the prospects of attracting the next generation of employees to replace its retiring workforce.
The students have been attending northwestern colleges and universities and will be assisting EM managers until early August, helping with engineering, accounting, waste management, and other functions. The internships give the students hand-on experience in their chosen fields and help managers groom potential future employees.
Heather Dineen, Fluor Idaho human resources representative, said it is important to match the interns with qualified mentors who can teach them the basics of engineering, for example, and the unique aspects of applying that knowledge to EM’s cleanup.
“We’re always pleased when we can hire one of our interns after they graduate because they’re much more up to speed on the types of work we do and have already developed professional relationships with veteran employees,” Dineen said. “That is extremely beneficial to both the new hire and us as a company.”
Like elsewhere in the EM complex, Fluor Idaho is facing record numbers of employee retirements this year as the average age of its workforce approaches 60. At the Waste Management 2018 Symposium in Phoenix, contractors discussed this problem in a special panel session: the loss of institutional knowledge as seasoned employees retire faster than younger employees prepare to take over.
One contractor said his company puts a lot of faith in the intern process, with the company hiring 83 percent of them. Most stay because they like the work, he said.
Dineen said Fluor Idaho requires its interns to develop and deliver a presentation to managers at the end of the summer detailing their work activities.
“We really want them to showcase their contributions and be proud of their work,” she said.
Fluor Idaho has funded two scholarships of the recently established College of Eastern Idaho and is involved in creating courses and curriculum that directly feed into jobs at the Idaho National Laboratory (INL).
“It’s a wise investment on the company’s part,” Fluor Idaho Training Manager David Lent said. “We are currently working with local school districts to influence the educational system from kindergarten to career. Our intent is to build a pipeline that ties high school to our community college to good paying jobs at the INL. Internships are a critical part in the process. For example, in the radiation control technician training process, most of those who complete their education already have jobs lined up.”