There are over 30 countries interested in building their first nuclear power reactor, according to Agency reports. These countries span virtually every continent and vary greatly in economic and social development, ranging from the high-income Gulf States to low-income Sub-Saharan African countries. The need for predictability of cost and energy security, as well as growing concerns over climate change and the need for clean energy make nuclear power an attractive alternative. Notwithstanding, the rapidly increasing worldwide demand for electricity over the coming decades predicts that the global appetite for nuclear energy will continue to be strong.
Capacity building will be key to this growth, requiring newcomers to first develop the needed workforce size and expertise for all of the organizations and institutions necessary to sustaining a safe and secure nuclear power programme. In fact, nuclear safety considerations make a qualified workforce mandatory and nuclear security considerations and other drivers add to this need.
Even for existing programmes, with many currently going through a generation change and some expanding their current programmes, the challenges of ensuring sufficient, sustainable human resources for the life cycle of operating plants are quite significant.
Furthermore, this issue of capacity building has taken on more significance since the Fukushima Daiichi accident - as explicitly called for in the IAEA Action Plan on Nuclear Safety promulgated in response to the accident. It recommends Member States with, and those embarking on, nuclear power programmes to strengthen, develop, maintain and implement their capacity building programmes (including education, training and exercises at the national, regional and international levels) to continuously ensure sufficient and competent human resources necessary to assume their responsibility for safe, responsible and sustainable use of nuclear technologies.
The Action Plan defines "capacity building" as "a systematic and integrated approach to develop and continuously improve the governmental, organizational and individual competencies and capabilities necessary for achieving a safe, secure and sustainable nuclear power programme."
From 12 to 16 May 2014, the IAEA is organizing the International Conference on Human Resource Development for Nuclear Power Programmes: Building and Sustaining Capacity. This Conference is the second major conference of its kind - the first one was held in 2010 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Five working sessions will allow participants to discuss the global challenges of building capacity: the critical role of HRD; the advances in knowledge management; networking; education and training programmes; and, the preparations required for the next generation of nuclear professionals to build and maintain safe, responsible and sustainable nuclear infrastructures. There will also be numerous interactive presentations and an exhibition by related organizations.
Summaries of all technical presentations and discussions, including lessons learned, and recommendations for further activities, will be presented at the closing session of the conference.