As the generation of professionals who built and led the nuclear power industry for the last half century approaches retirement, there is a shortage of new nuclear specialists to take their place.
Therefore, training opportunities like the International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP)/IAEA School of Nuclear Energy Management, now underway in Trieste, Italy, are vitally important for the safe and successful continuation of the nuclear power industry.
In a video address at the School's 8 August opening ceremony, IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano underscored the need for trained nuclear professionals, even in countries which have decided to abandon the technology for electricity generation.
"Despite Fukushima Daiichi, global use of nuclear power will continue to grow in the coming decades. Even the few countries which have decided to abandon nuclear power will still need a highly qualified workforce for decades to come - to run existing nuclear power plants, to decommission them and to ensure the safe disposal of nuclear waste. Countries which have ambitious expansion plans, and what the IAEA calls 'newcomer' countries, also have considerable needs for new nuclear expertise," said Amano.
The School focuses on preserving, sharing and developing nuclear energy knowledge accumulated through years of experience in order to promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy.
According to Alexander Bychkov, IAEA Deputy Director General and Head of the Nuclear Energy Department, the school is part of the IAEA's responsibility to help Member States, especially those considering or starting national nuclear power programmes.
Addressing the participants during the opening ceremony, Bychkov said, "When you return to your countries after these three weeks, you will be better prepared to contribute to building and managing nuclear power programmes responsibly, safely and sustainably."
In light of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident, which has had far-reaching implications, Bychkov admonished participants to see their field more clearly.
"You must understand that all aspects of nuclear energy - the technical elements and the management elements - have to be considered as one unified system. Only then will you succeed as effective nuclear energy managers."
This is the second School of Nuclear Energy Management organized jointly by the IAEA and the ICTP. The first took place in November last year.
In 2012 the School will be held in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, in January and in Tokyo, Japan in June. Other countries have also requested to host the School in the future.
Approximately 60 participants from more than 30 countries are taking part this year. The programme of study, delivered by 40 international lecturers, covers the most important topics related to the nuclear energy sector.
The topics will include: nuclear power; nuclear fuel cycle and waste management; energy planning, economics and finance; nuclear safety, nuclear law, international conventions and relevant mechanisms; as well as nuclear non-proliferation and safeguards.