The availability of skilled staff is a cornerstone of the sustainability of the nuclear energy sector both in countries already operating nuclear facilities and those introducing nuclear power or dismantling plants. Various levels of expertise are needed, ranging from subject matter experts with advanced technical degrees and training, to skilled craft and maintenance workers. The decision of many countries to start or phase out a nuclear programme has a profound effect and poses challenges on the nuclear workforce population, such as the need to attract young talent and retain and transfer knowledge in the nuclear industry (World Association of Nuclear Operators [WANO] Young Generation Initiative).
Many human resource development needs and challenges are common across the nuclear industry (the International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA] Human Resource Development Conference 2018). The availability of skilled and experienced people impacts nuclear operators, nuclear regulatory organisations and the supply chain, and has proven to be a factor in problems experienced in the course of new build projects. Access to nuclear expertise to guarantee the safe and efficient use of nuclear technologies hit not only the power sector but also the non-power applications of nuclear technology in industry and medicine, and ultimately the support of top-level decision makers and policymakers.
The Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) examined causes that may explain the growing concern related to the loss of nuclear knowledge and expertise during the Policy Debate on Knowledge Management in the Context of an Ageing Workforce (the NEA Steering Committee, 31 October 2018). Multinational organisations such as the IAEA, the NEA and WANO, are cornerstones in the codification, preservation and transfer of knowledge defining the state of the art in the field. However, a concern appears to lie in the diminished opportunities available to the young generation to acquire, by themselves, the so-called tacit knowledge, which requires exposure to practical experiences and hands-on projects.
The one-day workshop aimed to discuss and address common challenges, as well as sought opportunities for collaboration and sharing of experience to benefit the respective members of the IAEA, the NEA and WANO, by creating a forum to:
The scope of the workshop focused on human capital in the context of operating nuclear power plants and new builds, keeping in mind that these human capital issues impact equally the whole nuclear life cycle from research and development, to refurbishment projects, decommissioning and dismantling, waste management as well as the supply chain.
The contributors were operator, technical support and nuclear regulatory organisations. Two young generation speakers also offered their view of the issue.
As a result of this workshop, the NEA, the IAEA, and WANO sought to identify where and what additional efforts are needed and to consider developing common activities that should focus on ways to attract, hire, retain and develop a talent base to ensure the safe and effective use of nuclear energy and technology.
Session 1: High Safety Performance, with Peter Prozesky, WANO
Session 2: Leadership for Safety, with Greg Rzentkowski, The IAEA
Keynote: Workforce of the Future
Session 3: Attracting, Training and Retaining the Next Generation of Nuclear Professionals, with Deputy Director General Daniel Iracane, The NEA
Session 4: Conclusions and Next Steps
Closing remarks by NEA