Over the last few years, education, training and knowledge management in nuclear science and technology have been very high priority, topical issues for the international community, notably in the context of a prospective nuclear renaissance.
There is great concern that skilled manpower in sufficient quantities, as well as adequate infrastructures for collecting and disseminating information will not be available.
Following a policy debate on "Nuclear Research", in October 2007 NEA member country representatives unanimously adopted a statement on the need for qualified human resources in the nuclear field, reflecting the difficulties nuclear institutions in many NEA member countries are experiencing in recruiting qualified specialists for the design, operation and regulation of nuclear facilities.
Since the 2000 OECD/NEA report Nuclear Education and Training: Cause for Concern? flagged the magnitude and urgency of the issue to governments, a number of actions have been taken which have led to significant improvements in several areas. In some countries, specific plans to support universities have been successful in reversing the declining trends of the number of graduates in nuclear engineering, whilst various international programmes have been initiated which strive to foster regional and trans-national co-operation and to improve educational infrastructure at universities, research institutes and industrial facilities in the nuclear field.
While significant progress has been triggered in some cases, strains in the human resources capacity remain strong. The retirement or impending retirement of many of the generation which built the existing nuclear power plants and were involved in nuclear R&D in the 1960s and 1970s enhances the risk that collective knowledge and experience of the nuclear industry may be lost over the next few years.
Against this backdrop, the NEA Committee for Technical and Economic Studies on Nuclear Energy Development and the Fuel Cycle (NDC) decided to undertake this activity on education, training and knowledge management.
The ETKM expert group was therefore established in October 2009 to conduct a study, with the assistance of the Secretariat. Building on existing work by the NEA, the International Energy Agency, the European Community and other organisations, the study will aim at:
The main output of the project will be an NEA monograph to be prepared by the end of 2010.
Last updated: 5 November 2009