Alongside other developments, the changing nuclear workforce is raising issues of "knowledge management" underlying the safe and economic use of nuclear science and technology. In recent years, a number of trends have drawn attention to issues. For one, the nuclear workforce is aging - that is, more and more nuclear workers are approaching retirement age, without a corresponding influx of appropriately qualified younger personnel to replace them. Fewer young people are studying nuclear science, nuclear engineering and related fields at the university level, and a growing number of universities are giving up their nuclear education programmes altogether.
In recognition of these and other trends, a number of IAEA advisory committees, as well as the IAEA Board of Governors and General Conference, have called for measures to better identify the nature and scope of the problem, to understand what Member States are doing to address it, and to determine what co-operative international actions might be appropriate.
From 17-19 June in Vienna, the IAEA is hosting a high-level meeting of senior officials -- from academia, government, industry, the IAEA and other relevant organizations -- on the theme of “Managing Nuclear Knowledge”. The meeting aims to increase awareness and understanding of this emerging concern, to share national and international experience, and to recommend steps forward. In advance of the meeting, the IAEA has issued a Background Paper summarizing major trends and issues.