EU education & training policy must support nuclear skills
Brussels, 29 September 2020: In order to ensure that the European nuclear industry can continue to provide both vital medical diagnosis and treatment, as well as low-carbon energy, it needs people with the right skills. According to a new position paper issued by FORATOM, EU education and training policy must do more to ensure that there is a sufficient number of people with the right skills in the nuclear field.
Society is facing significant challenges in terms of climate change, access to affordable energy, health and employment. The European nuclear sector stands ready to meet these challenges. However, it is facing a skills shortage, particularly given that a significant part of the workforce is reaching retirement-age and will have to be replaced in the near term. In addition, the implementation of, for example, digitalisation will require the reskilling and upskilling of workers. The industry, as well as policy makers at both EU and Member State level must work together to ensure that Europe can maintain its highly skilled nuclear workforce, thus ensuring long-term benefits for our society.
“The European nuclear sector brings significant benefits to our day-to-day lives”, says FORATOM Director General Yves Desbazeille. “From helping the EU to fight climate change, to providing access to life-saving treatment and supporting a wide range of European based jobs at different levels, nuclear helps us meet the challenges our society faces”.
FORATOM therefore recommends the following in order to ensure that the EU has a sufficient number of people – with the right skills – in order to continue its nuclear activities.:
- Promoting and making STEM subjects attractive amongst pupils to ensure European technological leadership.
- Developing and implementing policies which encourage young people to study and work in the nuclear field, by speaking more positively about the benefits which nuclear provides to society.
- Basing policies on robust scientific facts. This means ensuring that all technologies are treated on an equal footing and that accurate information is provided on employment opportunities within the EU in relation to the different low-carbon sectors.
- EU funds allocated to nuclear education and training should be increased. This will help ensure that the EU maintains its nuclear innovation leadership, by supporting a skilled workforce capable of both undertaking vital R&D as well as implementing innovative projects.
- Apply a long-term approach to EU funded projects in the field of Education & Training. Whilst projects which run for only a limited time do have some short-term benefits, much more could be achieved if they were to continue for a longer period. This may also encourage coordination between overlapping projects and reduce the current duplication.
- Policymakers, educational systems and industry should work together to ensure generation transition and competence transfer, as well as to help the workforce adapt to new technologies (digitalisation, industry 4.0).
Read FORATOM’s position paper to find out more.