The nuclear sector needs a broad range of educational backgrounds and skills to work in all areas throughout the nuclear lifecycle.
Together the areas of new build, plant maintenance, fuel cycle, decommissioning and deep geological waste disposal will require a new generation of nuclear engineers and scientists. As the UK hasn’t built a new nuclear plant in some years, the sector has an older than average age of total UK workforce, with many expected to retire in the coming years.
There are many exciting nuclear courses provided by UK Universities for both undergraduate and postgraduate level.
Such courses will only be successful if youngsters at school, as well as their teachers and careers advisers know about the sector and what is involved. A number of initiatives have been taken, for example:
The NIA has launched re:generation – a campaign to give young people, schools and parents information on the exciting careers the UK’s nuclear sector has to offer.
The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council is funding the development of supporting material for teaching nuclear topics at school. Through this project university material is being converted for schools to use in the classroom.
The Smallpeice Trust (an educational charity), Urenco (the company which enriches uranium for fuel in the UK) and the National Nuclear Laboratory are supporting an annual residential course at the University of Manchester for two hundred 14-16 year olds who are interested in a career in the nuclear industry; NNL also supports a Smallpeice residential course at Lancaster University.
Supported by the Nuclear Institute, the Universities of Manchester, Liverpool and York provide an annual training day on nuclear technologies for schoolteachers.
Urenco has launched primary school workshops which offer a fun and interactive way to learn about the scientific processes behind uranium enrichment. This is being done through the character Richie Enrichment who helps the children find out where their energy comes from, and how it is created.
The Young Generation Network was founded to enable the exchange of knowledge and awareness of the industry between older and younger generations. It aims to encourage young people within the nuclear industry to stay within the field and provide a resource for the future.