Thursday, May 04, 2006

What Can We Do to Build the Nuclear Workforce?

We've predicted that very quickly, the debate over nuclear power will switch from "should we build reactors?" to "We need Nuclear power yesterday! Hurry! Hurry! Oh no! We don't have enough engineers!"

This is the typical boom-bust cycle of the world, but in this case it appears to be amplified.

For example, here is a recent article on "The Brain Drain."

The important question is, as the world recognizes the crucial nature of nuclear power, who will be able to ramp up the quickest? How will we handle this problem in the US?

A few points:

  • We need to institute policies to record and preserve the knowledge of retiring engineers. Many of them are "just retired" and still possessing great reserves of untapped knowledge. Fortunately there are some significant new technologies recently developed, especially in the training management and skills planning field, which improve our ability to "record" expertise properly.
  • We need to build up our nuclear university departments, student recruiting, and research funding. This is pretty obvious.
  • Finally we need to start looking at policy changes and hiring practices that encourage experienced nuclear personnel to move to those nations that are in the fastest growth curve.
Anybody else out there have some thoughts? We'd like to explore this topic in detail.


At 9:30 AM, Blogger Rod Adams said...


I agree with your suggestions and would like to add a few of my own.

1. Make sure that all of the nuclear trained people now residing in the US that are no longer working in the industry because of a perceived lack of opportunities realize that times have changed.

2. Recruit talented engineers and technicians from industries that are not growing very rapidly. The skills needed in nuclear power are not that different from those needed in aviation design and production, automobile production, and aviation operations. Experienced people from other industries can inject tremendous levels of knowledge and experience and can help the nuclear industry thrive.

3. Remember that there is a fine source of nuclear talent from the nuclear Navy. (One of my special interest areas).

4. Continue the work that is already being done in many areas, especially those near existing power plants of developing nuclear related technical curricula at community colleges.

Welcome back!


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