In order for the nuclear energy sector to increase production to help mitigate climate change and provide energy security, a large and robust workforce of trained and highly skilled professionals will be required.
Safeguarding the nuclear sector’s future workforce is a key focus for the Nuclear Energy Agency’s (NEA) Global Forum on Nuclear Education, Science, Technology and Policy (Global Forum), an inclusive network of experts in the nuclear energy sector ̶ primarily from academia ̶ focused on enabling the generation and flow of ideas through co-operative and creative problem solving.
The question of how to build a strong nuclear workforce was discussed during the Global Forum’s fourth Council of Advisors meeting at the NEA offices in Paris from 28 February to 1 March 2023.
“At present, the talent base in the nuclear field is extremely thin, making the threat of not having enough educated and trained professionals around to design and operate the future nuclear fleet a huge challenge,” said NEA Director-General William D. Magwood, IV during his opening remarks.
NEA Director-General William D. Magwood, IV and the Chair of the Global Forum, Professor Richard Lester, Associate Provost of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), during the Council of Advisors meeting in Paris.
The Chair of the Global Forum, Professor Richard Lester, Associate Provost of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), led the meeting and discussion, noting there could not be a more relevant time to address nuclear education.
The Global Forum aims to address the status of nuclear education through four main working areas:
- The future of nuclear engineering education
- Re-thinking the relationship between nuclear energy and society
- Future requirements for the competitiveness of nuclear energy
- Achieving gender equity in the workforce in nuclear engineering and technology and in academia
Additionally, a fifth working group will be developed with the aim of making nuclear law a more integral part of nuclear education curricula.
During the meeting, the council shared details on the upcoming Rising Stars Programme, a workshop dedicated to uplifting women and providing leadership skills through real-life experience from established female professionals in the field, as part of the group’s efforts to improve gender balance in the nuclear sector.
The group also welcomed partner organisations from the European Commission, European Nuclear Education Network, the International Atomic Energy Agency and the NEA Nuclear Education, Skills and Technology Framework (NEST), who presented ongoing initiatives and shared the need for more co-operation within the nuclear education and training community.
The Global Forum’s Council of Advisors will reconvene in the fall of 2023 for their next meeting.
To learn more about the Global Forum, visit here.