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Engaging the Young Generation, Ensuring the Future of Nuclear Energy

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Chirayu Batra, President of the United Nations – Nuclear Young Generation (UN-NYG) presenting at the IAEA General Conference side event on engaging the young generation of nuclear professionals. (Photo: D. Popovich/IAEA)

A highly skilled workforce is vital to the future of any industry, and the nuclear sector is no exception. The side event “The Future of Nuclear Energy: Engaging the Young Generation,” held on 20 September alongside the 61st IAEA General Conference, covered approaches to capacity building and the development of a skilled workforce.

“Capacity building is key to establishing a competent nuclear workforce, which demands a continuous improvement in education and training,” said Mikhail Chudakov, IAEA Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Nuclear Energy. “Fortunately, the IAEA can provide its Member States with many tools for capacity building, in order to ensure the continued availability of highly qualified personnel for the safe, secure and sustainable use of nuclear energy.”

Participants at the event presented several programmes developed by the IAEA for the training and education of future nuclear professionals, and several young professionals from the industry shared their experience in this area.

Research reactor training

Training tools include the Internet Reactor Laboratory (IRL), regional research reactor schools, the group fellowship training programme of the Eastern Europe Research Reactor Initiative and the International Centres based on Research Reactors (ICERR) scheme. These training programmes are available to experts from countries that already operate or are planning to establish a research reactor as a facility to develop capabilities in nuclear science and technology. They also provide access to research reactors to university students and researchers from countries without research reactor facilities.

“The main objective of these types of programmes is to foster knowledge, rules and skill-based behaviour, as well as to develop the nuclear safety culture,” said Andrea Borio di Tigliole, Head of the Research Reactor Section at the IAEA. “They are very well suited for professionals with some experience, as well as for initial education and training.”

John de Grosbois, Head of the IAEA Nuclear Knowledge Management (NKM) Section, highlighted the aspects of the NKM programme that help strengthen nuclear education in the Member States. These included management training for young professionals in the nuclear sector, supporting online learning and distance learning, and strengthening national and regional educational networking, human resources and knowledge development.

The IAEA’s nuclear energy management and NKM Schools have so far trained over 1,000 students.

European masters

Leon Cizeli, the president of the European Nuclear Education Network (ENEN), presented the new European ENEN Plus Project, which aims to attract, retain and develop nuclear talent. He also highlighted other opportunities available within the ENEN framework, such as the European Master of Nuclear Engineering (EMSNE) certification of which more than 230 certificates have been awarded since 2005.

The event featured an EMSNE Award Ceremony, with 19 laureates from different countries receiving EMSNE Certificates.

Educational programmes fostered by the IAEA, ENEN and other educational networks aim to support the continuous supply of technical and scientific expertise.

The Young Generation in Nuclear society shared some of the ways in which they contribute to knowledge transfer and leadership development, including mentorship programmes, soft skill seminars, multi‑cultural integration, and sharing of best practices.

“A need for establishing successful retention, knowledge transfer, mentoring, leadership development, training and capacity building programmes are one of the industry’s most significant challenges to date,” said Chirayu Batra, United Nations - Nuclear Young Generation (UN-NYG) President.  “Young generation networks are critical components in developing ideas, techniques and programmes.”

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