Wednesday, May 10, 2006

China and the Nuclear Work Force

We've written more than a few times about the challenge the American nuclear industry faces in terms of the nuclear workforce. And, as it turns out, China faces some of the same challenges too:

China's plans to develop its nuclear power industry faces a major hurdle: a shortage of personnel, a top nuclear expert says.

"The number of current staff is far below the demand of the nuclear industry, especially the nuclear power industry," said Kang Rixin, general manager of China National Nuclear Corp., according to a report in the official Xinhua news agency Sunday.

Asia's second-largest economy needs energy to feed its rapidly growing markets and as part of this effort, Beijing is seeking to diversify its sources of energy. It plans to expand installed nuclear power generating capacity to 40m kW by 2020, up from 8.7m kW now.
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1 comment:

Paul Primavera said...

NRC Commissioner Lyons addressed US nuclear work force issues in his February 28, 2006 speech entitled:

Regulatory Perspectives on U.S. Nuclear Power Infrastructure - Current and Future

at web page:

http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/commission/speeches/2006/s-06-003.html

A brief excerpt suffices:

"Finally, I'd like to address another significant challenge for both the industry and the NRC: the impending loss of many of our most experienced employees who are nearing retirement, and the attendant loss of the historical and collective lessons that they have learned. It isn't sufficient to just hope that these lessons will have been passed on to younger generations. There must be proactive actions to mentor our less experienced employees to pass on the important values that are essential to continued safe use of the nuclear energy option.

"Human capital in the nuclear arena is a subset of a much larger national issue. I have serious concerns with the current state of our nation's workforce preparation for science and engineering in general. This issue was recently discussed in significant detail in a comprehensive report issued by the Task Force on the Future of American Innovation.

"That report noted that the number of science and engineering positions in the U.S. workforce has grown since 1980 at almost 5 times the rate of the U.S. civilian workforce as a whole. But in contrast, the number of science and engineering degrees earned by U.S. citizens is growing at rate below the growth in the total U.S. civilian workforce. Further, our preparation of qualified science and engineering graduates is falling further behind other nations with each passing year.

"One measure of this issue, collected in the compendium of Science and Engineering Indicators compiled by the National Science Board, is the ratio of initial university science and engineering degrees to the population of 24 year-olds. In 1975, this ratio for the U.S. exceeded most of the surveyed nations, except Finland and Japan. By 2000, our ratio was exceeded by 16 nations, including again Finland and Japan, plus France, Taiwan, South Korea, UK, Sweden, Ireland, and Italy, to name a few."