What are the work force challenges for nuclear technologies?


A critical issue that may impede the fast development and expansion of nuclear technologies is the renewal/availability of qualified staff for all projects and in regulatory bodies. Lack of necessary human resources and competences has been studied since some 10 years and actions have been taken by governments, universities, designers and constructors first to retain the knowledge and experience of the ageing and retiring work force and second to train young generations of engineers and qualified and competent technicians and workers.


The NEA report “NUCLEAR EDUCATION AND TRAINING, Cause for Concern?” says: “Failure to take appropriate steps now will seriously jeopardise the provision of adequate expertise tomorrow. We must act now on the following recommendations.
1. Strategic role of governments
  • Engage in strategic energy planning, including consideration of education, manpower and infrastructure.
  • Contribute to, if not take responsibility for, integrated planning to ensure that human resources are available to meet 
    necessary obligations and address outstanding issues.
  • Support, on a competitive basis, young students and provide adequate resources for vibrant nuclear research and 
    development programmes including modernisation of facilities.
  • Provide support by developing “educational networks or bridges” between universities, industry and research
2. The challenges of revitalising nuclear education by university
  • Provide basic and attractive educational programmes.
  • Interact early and often with potential students, both male and female, and provide adequate information.
3. Vigorous research and maintaining high-quality training
 • Provide rigorous training programs to meet specific needs.
 • Develop exciting research projects to meet industry’s needs and attract quality students and employees (research
4. Benefits of collaboration and sharing best practices
 • Industry, research institutes and universities need to work together to coordinate efforts better to encourage the
  younger generation.
 • Develop and promote a programme of collaboration in nuclear education and training, and provide a mechanism for
  sharing best practices in promoting nuclear courses between countries.”
For developing countries embarking on a nuclear programme, the situation is even more difficult and it is generally considered that some 10 years are necessary to create the right infrastructure and to obtain the necessary competent staff for the nuclear program. International co-operation and agreements are recommended to fill the gaps.
References: NEA, IAEA