UK Report Highlights Nuclear Skills Gap
22 November, 2011
A report published today by the UK's House of Lords, which calls for government action to ensure a new generation of experts on which the nuclear industry, government and regulator can rely, has been welcomed by ENELA, the European Nuclear Energy Leadership Academy.
The report by the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee says: "We do not believe that the UK has sufficient research and development capabilities and associated expertise to be able to cope with the current nuclear programme up to 2050, let alone a significantly extended programme."
According to the report, the situation is largely because of an "ageing pool of experts" built on past investments in research and development (R&D). However, the report says this means that, "in a few years' time, there will be crucial gaps in capabilities".
"A new stream of experts will need to be generated in the near future if the UK is to retain sufficient capabilities to be an intelligent customer and regulator in the future up to 2050," the report adds.
Commenting on the report, ENELA's director Jean-Claude Gauthier said the findings were a "sobering but constructive appraisal" of the challenges faced by the UK.
Mr Gauthier said: "The report rightly points out that it takes years to develop a significant cadre of suitably trained experts and managers with industry experience. The UK, however, is not alone in this regard. Other countries are facing similar difficulties; therefore industry and academia are already working hard to tackle the issue.
"It has been nearly two years since six of Europe’s leading nuclear energy companies formed ENELA, at the instigation of the European Commission, to provide much-needed training programmes that focus both on practice-oriented management & leadership skills and technical aspects. This training closes a gap in existing programmes by helping to attract university graduates to the nuclear energy sector and training future leaders in this field."
He added: "Earlier this year, I was delighted that ENELA was accepted as an international affiliate of the UK National Skills Academy for Nuclear. We are also developing links with prestigious European partner universities and institutions such as the UK's Dalton Nuclear Institute, to bridge the gap between higher education and the wider nuclear energy community.
"We look forward to assisting wherever we can in ensuring that the nuclear energy sector in the UK and worldwide has access to the foremost training and development opportunities. In so doing, we can help to pave the way for a new generation of nuclear professionals."