ENS YGN WORKSHOP @ ENC2007
Katrien Van Tichelen, ENS YGN
At ENC2007, the Young Generation Network of the
ENS organized the workshop "Challenges and Opportunities
for Nuclear Professionals".
The ENS YGN invited two speakers to introduce the topic from
different perspectives. Gert Van den Eynde (SCK•CEN / BNEN,
Belgium) focussed on the research and academic point of view.
Marco Streit (ATEL, Switzerland) represented the nuclear industry
and utilities. Both presentations were the perfect initiators
of a lively discussion.
The debate was even more successful due to the varied and enthusiastic
public. Thirty participants, fresh and experienced, from universities,
research institutes and industry participated actively in the
discussions until the chairman noticed it was high time for conclusions!
Nuclear professionals have a high market value! Opportunities
are numerous. Energy needs are growing. There is a steep increase
in requests for plant lifetime extension and in proposals for
new builds, whereas a large generation of nuclear experts is
retiring. Research opportunities preparing the next generation
of nuclear systems are ample.
Qualified people are needed in times where engineering studies
aren't very hot and the public perception of nuclear not very
The problem is even bigger for universities and institutes: the
high need for qualified people in the industry, results in a
brain drain from research. This is a severe challenge for the
universities and institutes today.
Also, the retirement of the experienced generation in combination
the generation gap in nuclear industry complicate the transfer
of know-how towards the new nuclear professionals. Nuclear industry
should be aware of this difficulty and provide programmes to
bridge the gap.
Nuclear education programmes are available in universities and
institutes, both at national and international level. They are
set up in a way a combination of study and work is possible.
Universities and institutes can organize specific programmes
at the request of industry (while guaranteeing the academic value!).
Industry can sponsor engineering faculties and send its people
Innovative projects attract young people. Large infrastructures
are magnets for new professionals. Research progresses science
and provides sustainable solutions.
By combining their efforts, research and industry
can tackle the challenges above!
Young people interested in the nuclear field, should enter now.
Opportunities to get the right qualification exist but own initiative
and flexibility are needed. Don't wait until someone ask you
but organize yourself to learn from experienced people and to
share your own experiences with the others.
Research and industry should give their new professionals the
opportunity to learn new things. They could set up mentoring
programmes to bridge the generation gap. Encourage young people
to network and convince your middle management to allow them
to participate to conferences. Give young employees some freedom
and let them take leadership!