With an ageing workforce and a decline in the numbers of qualified nuclear graduates, maintaining regulatory competency will be one of the most critical challenges to effective nuclear regulation in the coming decades. It is essential to prepare for future tasks and challenges in competency management in order to ensure that regulatory bodies have the right skills and abilities for the continued enhancement of safety.
In this context, the NEA Regulators’ Forum (RF) organised a “Workshop on Competency Management of Regulators (COMAREG)” to facilitate a broad discussion of the challenges around the competency of regulators in the areas of radioactive waste management, decommissioning and legacy management. The workshop was held virtually on 18-20 May 2021 with more than 50 participants from 22 countries.
The first day of the workshop was dedicated to presentations on the implementation of regulatory competency management by the regulatory bodies of Argentina, Bulgaria, Finland, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States, as well as by the European Nuclear Safety Training & Tutoring Institute (ENSTTI), the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the NEA. Following the presentations, the workshop featured breakout sessions to allow participants to brainstorm and collectively think about potential solutions to developing future regulatory competency.
The discussions highlighted several key areas of interest in support of the development of national frameworks for regulatory competency management. These include capacity building, knowledge management and governance, long-term radioactive waste management and stakeholder involvement in decision making. Building upon these key areas of interest, the participants also identified key skills for effective regulatory competency management, including:
- Expertise in new and innovative technologies (e.g. SMRS, robotics, AI, decommissioning of novel facilities);
- Mentoring experience and teaching skills for coaching new regulators;
- Public communication skills;
- Meta-competence in digital platforms, e-learning, self-planning and development of competency.
The participants concluded that international co-operation through the NEA and multilateral exchanges among regulators would be central to successfully developing these skills in the coming years. In-person and online events, reports on best practices and peer reviews could help facilitate such exchanges.