Attracting the next generation of nuclear scientists, researchers and engineers is imperative to the success of the nuclear sector and its ability to help reduce carbon emissions and provide reliable clean energy.
The International Youth Nuclear Congress (IYNC) provides a bi-annual forum for the next generation of the nuclear workforce to exchange ideas on nuclear science and technology research, knowledge transfer and implementation.
More than 200 young nuclear professionals gathered at the 12th IYNC which took place on 27 November to 2 December 2022 in Komiyama, Japan. The event served as a platform for professional development opportunities for the next generation of nuclear energy specialists to learn from and engage with senior leaders in the sector. This year’s theme You are the CORE focused on efforts to put human elements at the centre of nuclear discussions.
NEST Management Professor Andreas Pautz delivered a presentation to the participants at the International Youth Nuclear Congress. (Image source: IYNC)
Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) Director-General William D. Magwood, IV was invited to address the young nuclear professionals and delivered a keynote address by video.
“We are dealing with the twin crises of providing energy security for people around the world and simultaneously reducing carbon emissions from our economies. This presents a great challenge, but also a great opportunity,” said Director-General Magwood.
The NEA Director-General stressed the importance of the nuclear sector collaborating to ensure it is equipped with a strong workforce.
“We need highly trained and qualified people to build, operate and develop new nuclear technologies and applications in the coming decades, to deal with these challenges and the energy transition to low carbon economies," he added.
More than 200 young nuclear professionals gathered at the 12th IYNC on 27 November to 2 December 2022 in Komiyama, Japan. (Image source: IYNC)
Director-General Magwood also highlighted the NEA’s commitment to promote human capacity building through its programmes such as the Nuclear Education, Skills and Technology (NEST) Framework. This framework, which addresses important gaps in nuclear skills capacity building, knowledge transfer and technical innovation in an international context, was presented during a plenary session on Human Capital: enriching the nuclear professionals of tomorrow by the NEST Management Professor Andreas Pautz.
“The IYNC was a great opportunity to showcase the NEA’s NEST framework to its true target group: graduate students, postdoctoral researchers and young professionals working in industry” said Professor Pautz.
The panelists highlighted how mentoring is one of the key components to successful knowledge transfer and human capital building and how this practice can be facilitated more in the field. The value of attaining tacit knowledge from the long-term practical experience of leading experts in the field is essential.
NEST Management Professor Andreas Pautz presented at the plenary session 'Human Capital: enriching the nuclear professionals of tomorrow.' (Image source: IYNC)
The conference was also an opportunity for the younger generation of nuclear professionals to raise their concerns about the nuclear industry, including the speed of progress in the advancement of nuclear technologies and the lack of opportunities to work on the grand challenges in the nuclear sector. The panelists agreed that such opportunities are best created in an international context and through project-based education and training programmes, such as NEST. Awareness of these programmes can be a challenge for the industry and it was unanimously agreed that better communication and promotion of their objectives and work is needed to help attract new talent and mobilise the next generation of the nuclear sector.
For more on the NEA’s work on education and capacity building, visit here.