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Ensuring Competent Workforce a Major Challenge for Nuclear Power Programmes, IAEA Meeting Highlights

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Discussion during one of the TWG-MHR meeting’s breakout sessions, IAEA, 14 June 2016. (Photo: M. Kaczmarek/IAEA)

The reliable supply and long-term retention of personnel to ensure a competent workforce is one of the biggest challenges for the nuclear community and for all phases of the nuclear facility life cycle, a group of experts agreed at a recent IAEA meeting.

The members of the IAEA Technical Working Group on Managing Human Resources in the Field of Nuclear Energy (TWG-MHR) met at the IAEA Headquarters on 14–17 June 2016 to discuss major trends, challenges and good practices in human resource development and personnel training in Member States. Reflecting a global network of excellence and expertise in the area of integrated management of human resources, they also provided advice to the IAEA and support for programme implementation.

The mix of representatives from nuclear facilities, nuclear utilities, nuclear regulatory bodies and academia from 19 Member States gave a broad perspective on many aspects of managing human resources. The experts discussed educational programmes, training procedures, workers’ productivity and staffing plans within their country and field of expertise. IAEA staff presented topical issues on nuclear safety, nuclear infrastructure development and nuclear knowledge management.

“In addition to presenting good practices from different countries, the participants also addressed staffing issues for new nuclear power programmes in all three phases of the IAEA Milestones approach,” said David Drury, IAEA Scientific Secretary of the TWG-MHR. He presented activities planned by the Agency for the coming years, which include developing a concept of workforce suitability and a digital portal on human resource development, establishing a human resource infrastructure review service and an independent nuclear training accreditation, promoting new ways of learning in the digital era; and producing a document on leadership for the nuclear business.

The TWG members recommended several key topics that the IAEA may want to address in its human resource development programme, including:

  • Facilitating the sharing of lessons learned from the implementation of a Systematic Approach to Training (SAT) model. SAT is internationally recognized as a key tool for ensuring the competency of all nuclear power programme personnel;
  • Implementing corporate training committees;
  • Developing contractors’ knowledge, skills and attitudes;
  • Using reliability practices during technical trainings;
  • Evaluating the effectiveness of training; and
  • Developing new technologies to train personnel of nuclear power plants.

“We have learned that in some countries the nuclear industries are growing without difficulties,” said Istvan Kiss from the Paks Nuclear Power Plant in Hungary, who chaired the TWG-MHR. “But we have also learned that some countries are facing big challenges due to economic and other factors.” He encouraged the TWG members to share the information gained during the meeting with other stakeholders in their countries. “This meeting has helped us to better understand the current challenges and find good and common solutions for the future,” Mr Kiss concluded.

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