Semantic Competency Modelling Pilot Projects

Nuclear technology and the undertaking of any nuclear-related activity require the highest specifications of safety and reliability. These are in turn inextricably linked to workforce competence. The notable preponderance of human factors in the industry underscores the significance of suitable knowledge, skills and safe behaviours for nuclear workers, further emphasised by the impact of human factors in incidents and accidents. Licenced companies are held accountable and responsible to assure and demonstrate competency to the regulators at all stages of the licenced facility life-cycle. Utilities and vendors must rely on verifiable levels of competence not only for their own workforces but also for those in the supply chain from whom products and services are contracted. Demonstrating workforce competence is also paramount for the nuclear industry to instil stakeholders’ confidence. Moreover, in an increasingly globalised nuclear context, enabling mobility and retention of suitably qualified and experienced personnel has become crucial to ensure a sustainable workforce. For this purpose efforts are necessary to transcend diversity and inconsistency in training, qualifications, standards and in appointments.

Within a specific sector, new methods and tools exist to allow competencies to be modelled or “mapped” allowing comparisons at or between different levels and from different perspective, e.g., among others:

  • For characterisation of job profiles, such as competencies needed to fulfil specific roles;
  • In relation to a specific nuclear occupation or discipline, such as professional qualifications, designations and accreditations;
  • At the educational level, such as competencies expected to be achieved through specific academic programmes.

Competency mapping is a beneficial new approach that can aid for example in identifying key competencies required for individuals to successfully perform in their positions, and within a particular work setting. This approach can help the nuclear sector and organizations identify their needs and align competencies with their goals. Complex competency networks can involve multiple factors: e.g. industries recruiting for qualified employees and advertising their vacancies through job descriptions, taxonomies describing required skills and knowledge, and training centres and academic institutions providing training to achieve desired skills. Interconnecting and sharing competency frameworks and ultimately linking them to a general overarching map of the knowledge base of the nuclear domain could potentially bring many benefits. The integration of these aspects could bring many benefits to individuals, industry and educational institutions. For instance, by favouring more synchronized and systematic links across the industry, this integration process holds the potential to aid bridging the gap between labour market and education and training, ultimately supporting economic growth and development. Along with an improved understanding of the labour market, these links can also foster benchmarking and enable mobility.

The representation and integration process of competency maps could be strongly supported by the use of Semantic Knowledge Organization Systems (SKOS’s), and these based Semantic Web Standards (s.a. W3C). Semantic technology can enable the searching and linking and association of disparate and unstructured information, such as in the case of a network of distributed full-text document repositories, hence allowing for semantic enrichment on different levels.

This activity will entail the development of “proof of principle” pilot studies which will consist of implementing sample applications of competency modelling schema using semantic approaches and tools. The work will be based on limited trial representations of selected established competence models at different levels. It may also entail the liaison and collaboration with appropriate counterparts interested in the work.

For more information please contact the Scientific Secretary M. Urso at: NKM-Contact

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