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Preparing the Next Generation of the Workforce for the Nuclear Industry

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Event participants discussed ways of enhancing skills and knowledge transfer across generations. (Photo: H. Boening/IAEA)

The extent to which nuclear energy can achieve its potential for contributing to peace, health and prosperity ultimately depends on the availability of competent, qualified and capable staff. To attract and retain a new generation of talent, the nuclear industry should provide young professionals entering the workforce with a clear roadmap for their career advancement, according to experts who attended an event today on the sidelines of the IAEA’s 63rd General Conference.

Nuclear power is a long-term commitment spanning generations of experts over a facility’s lifetime. Ensuring the transfer of knowledge between retiring and new members of the nuclear workforce is hence one of the industry’s most significant challenges. Some 95 participants in the side event Preparing Next Generation of the Workforce for the Nuclear Industry: The Journey from Graduate to Professional, exchanged views and perspectives on ways to enhance the transfer of skills and knowledge across generations.

“To support the safe, responsible and sustainable use of nuclear energy, the IAEA can help Member States develop country-specific policies for human resource development,” said Mikhail Chudakov, IAEA Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Nuclear Energy. “Whether it’s the Nuclear Energy Management School or the Nuclear Knowledge Management School, the IAEA provides a host of training initiatives for tackling the challenge of preserving, sharing and transferring technical knowledge – and thereby improving human resource capacities in operating countries.”

The challenge is particularly pressing for countries with expanding nuclear power programmes. They need to scale up existing education and training programmes to ensure a new workforce is available and qualified to operate planned facilities.

“Nuclear power entities will need to anticipate HR needs and ensure that their workspaces remain attractive,” said David Drury, Head of the IAEA’s Nuclear Knowledge Management Section. “Providing prospective professionals and new staff with a roadmap for their career advancement will go a long way towards achieving that.”

The side event brought together representatives from the International Union of Veterans of Nuclear Energy and Industry (IUVNEI), youth organizations such as the United Nations Nuclear Young Generation (UN–NYG), the European Nuclear Education Network Association (ENEN), and the European Nuclear Society (ENS).

Participants emphasized the importance of building knowledge transfer programmes with a strong focus on mentoring and leadership development, utilizing the IAEA’s capacity building mechanisms and exchange platforms. Representatives from China, France, the Russian Federation and the United States of America shared their relevant experiences.

Chirayu Batra, President of the UN–NYG, noted: “A strong and committed youth network is a valuable asset to any industry, and if that network is well connected to and supported by the senior professionals, the progress and growth of the industry becomes sustainable. A competent youth network ensures this awareness, provides the support during the transition (from academia to industry), strengthens the integration of generations, and creates pathways for professional development.”

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