Two leading organisations for the nuclear industry in the UK, the National Skills Academy for Nuclear and the National Nuclear Laboratory have committed to working collaboratively on the development of high level skills to support future R&D capability for the sector.
The relationship has been cemented by the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) which formally marks the collaboration to ensure a streamlined and collaborative approach to ’Subject Matter Expert’ development, providing maximum impact and value for the industry between the organisations.
The Nuclear Energy R&D Roadmap: Future Pathways report produced by Government described the availability of skilled R&D personnel and Subject Matter Experts as a critical issue. It is critical not only for the experience required to build robust safety cases for nuclear operating plant, but also to provide the leadership and expertise necessary to implement the longer-term R&D that is in turn needed to inform future nuclear pathways and to provide strategic advice on emerging nuclear issues.
The National Nuclear Laboratory has a specific remit from the Department of Energy and Climate Change to maintain and develop key skills and capabilities in the nuclear R&D sector and is currently operating a small Subject Matter Expert development model with Sellafield Limited. The National Skills Academy for Nuclear is the lead strategic skills body for the nuclear industry and as such will aid in the standardisation of such activity building it into a formal programme for use across the UK.
Alongside industrial expertise, experience and development, the development of Subject Matter Experts also requires post-doctoral study with HE institutions like The University of Manchester and its Dalton Nuclear Institute. This helps provide a background which bridges academia, National Laboratories and industry. Having contributed to recommendations on Subject Matter Experts and high level skills development Dalton Nuclear Institute is committed to providing continuing support and works alongside NNL and NSA Nuclear on this agenda.
Dr Fiona Rayment, Fuel Cycle Solutions Director at NNL, said: “Among the many thousands of skilled people playing vital roles in our industry, I'd say there are 100 or more "Subject Matter Experts" who each possess virtually irreplaceable levels of knowledge in their specialist fields, often accumulated over decades. These people are the "gurus" of their particular technical areas and it is vital that we develop tailored programmes to help them to transfer their skill and insight to the next generation. I'm delighted that NNL will be leading this activity, working closely with the National Skills Academy for Nuclear."
Jean Llewellyn OBE, CEO National Skills Academy for Nuclear, added: “It is well reported that one of the major skills issues facing the nuclear industry in the UK is the ageing workforce, with over half of the workforce expected to retire in the next ten years. With Subject Matter Experts requiring 10 to 15 years train it is vital that a strategic approach commences with urgency. This is an urgent skills area for action and is intrinsic to the success of the future nuclear programme in the UK. To effectively address this area, a collaboration between NSA Nuclear, NNL, industry and academia is required.”
Professor Andrew Sherry FREng, Director of The University of Manchester’s Dalton Nuclear Institute, said: "The nuclear skills challenge is a major factor in the UK maximising its contribution to the domestic nuclear programme as well as enhancing international export and inward investment. The role of NNL and NSA Nuclear in addressing this challenge for higher level nuclear skills is critically important, and we look forward to working together with other academic institutions on this important agenda."
For more information, visit www.nuclear.nsacademy.co.uk