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A new report by GlobalData has said that the rapid growth of Asia’s nuclear industry has created a ‘significant gap’ in the number of nuclear engineers being trained, and those that are retiring. With countries such as China and India pushing ahead with massive nuclear development, the need for a huge workforce of suitably qualified workers has increased concerns of a skill shortage.
“The problem of skills shortages is becoming a global phenomenon. There is growing consensus among several countries for the need to invest in educating a workforce that meets the requirements of the nuclear power sector. Developing the right skills base is a key priority for the industry,” says GlobalData’s head consultant Jennifer Santos.
China has plans to build 57 commercial nuclear reactors to reduce emissions and cope with rising power consumption at home, with the country planning to increase its nuclear capacity from an existing 103,193 GWh to 384,615 GWh by 2020. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has forecast that an additional 20,400 nuclear staff will be required to support this increase in capacity.
India too is making preparations to address a potential skills shortage, planning 25 schools specialised in nuclear energy to support its expansion plans in nuclear power that will see the construction of 36 new reactors. The IAEA has calculated that the country will require 3,700 nuclear engineers by 2017 to support this growth.
With reactors coming back online recently, Japan is also planning to continue producing a large proportion of its power through nuclear. The country’s Nuclear Energy Human Resource Development Council (NEHRDC) has been tasked with monitoring the supply of suitably qualified staff to the nuclear industry – a likely particular focus following the Fukushima report’s criticisms of worker training during the 2011 meltdown.
Closer to home the UAE’s Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation has said that one of its ‘fundamental goals’ is to ensure it has fully qualified personnel who have the necessary knowledge, skills and experience with a focus on safety.