North America is facing a major shortage of qualified nuclear workforce to support its nuclear growth plans, due in part to an ageing workforce, says a new report by power experts GlobalData.
The new report* states that the nuclear power industry in Canada and the US will face a shortage of staff, which could harbor disastrous consequences, unless nuclear education and careers are significantly promoted.
Research and development of nuclear technology is essential for the growth of the nuclear industry, but the industry’s rapidly retiring workforce is having an adverse impact on nuclear research, as a significant amount of knowledge and experience is being lost. An increase in the number of experienced faculty at educational institutions could have a significant positive impact on the production of a quality nuclear workforce.
In 2008, a report by the American Physical Society (APS) Panel on Public Affairs Committee on Energy and Environment proved that simply maintaining the current power reactor fleet in the US would require many employees to be hired in order to replace the retirees. In any case of growth in nuclear power facilities, the staffing burden would be increased; therefore, the workforce shortage must be addressed in order to maintain nuclear safety and ensure nuclear power development.
According to the US Department of Labor, employment of nuclear reactor operators is expected to grow by 19% throughout 2008–2018. Alongside the need for growing staff numbers, the trend will also be caused by a new NRC regulation limiting shift durations for staff working at nuclear power plants. The requirement for trained nuclear staff will face additional increases from other nuclear industry sub-sectors such as power systems and heavy components manufacturing, which are predicted to see expansions in the near future.
Neighboring Canada is facing a similar struggle, as a report published in 2008 by the Canadian Nuclear Association (CNA) estimates that around 38% of workers in the nuclear industry are above the age of 50, and therefore approaching retirement age. A significant increase in the hiring of new employees is expected in the Canadian nuclear industry to curb this upcoming demand, and it is essential that the government manages knowledge transfer between the new and the old employees in order to maintain a high level of professional understanding.
July 2002 saw the Canadian government establish the University Network of Excellence in Nuclear Engineering (UNENE) to support the development of nuclear human resources in Canada. This establishment aimed to ensure the sustainable supply of nuclear workforce requirements through university education.
“We see a number of collaborative approaches to address the skills challenges in the nuclear power sector. Both the industry and the academe are expected to step up their efforts in developing a qualified nuclear workforce”, Jennifer Santos, GlobalData’s Head Consultant observed.
NOTES TO EDITORS
*Work Force Development to be a Top Priority for the Growth of Nuclear Industry
This report is an essential source of information on workforce development in the nuclear industry, which along with research and development activity to ensure technological growth, will be essential to ensuring the long-term health of the nuclear industry.
This report was built using data and information sourced from proprietary databases, primary and secondary research, and in-house analysis conducted by GlobalData’s team of industry experts.
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