In a position paper published on 29 September, Foratom said nuclear provides a range of benefits, including low-carbon energy and vital medical diagnosis and treatment. Nevertheless, some national policies tend to suggest that there is no future for nuclear in the EU, thus discouraging young people from joining the nuclear field.
This trend must be reversed, with EU policies speaking more positively on nuclear, Foratom said. This will help ensure that the bloc has enough people coming into the field to continue its nuclear activities.
EU funds allocated to nuclear education and training should be increased. This will help ensure that the EU maintains its nuclear innovation leadership.
A long-term approach is needed for EU-funded projects in education and training. Policymakers, educational systems and industry should work together to ensure knowledge is passed on to new workers and to help the workforce adapt to new technologies.
Foratom called on the EU’s energy policies should be based on robust scientific facts. This means ensuring that all technologies are treated on an equal footing.
The industry also needs to do more, Foratom said. It should invest in and maintain human capital by working with local and national governments and other stakeholders, like the European Nuclear Society’s Young Generation Network, to render the industry more attractive to young people. This is especially important as more than 50% of the current workforce will have retired by 2040.
Closer collaboration is needed with research institutes and universities to attract more people into the nuclear field. This could be done through closer cooperation with the European Nuclear Education Network and the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre.
Foratom called on the industry to assess the different types of skills and size of the workforce it will need over the next 30 years.
Innovation in the decommissioning sector needs to be stepped to maintain the workforce and skills needed to handle the end of life of nuclear plants. More needs to be done to attract young professionals to initiatives such as the Myrrha reactor project, which is managed by the Belgian Centre for Nuclear Research, the international Iter fusion project and the development of small modular reactors.