Committee: Nuclear energy sector needs 2,400 new professionals
Finland needs around 2,400 new professionals in the nuclear energy sector by 2025. 1,200 of around 3,300 current employees in the sector are due to retire. At the same time, additional construction of nuclear power plants and progress related to the final disposal of spent nuclear fuel raise the sector's need for workforce to around 4,500 employees.
Primarily, the employees required are highly educated professionals with degrees from universities and universities of applied science.
This conclusion is included in the report of the Committee for Nuclear Energy Competence in Finland, submitted to the Minister of Economic Affairs Jyri Häkämies on 26 March 2012. In October 2010, the Ministry of Employment and the Economy set up the Committee to examine the long-term education and research needs of the nuclear energy sector and the research infrastructure available for nuclear operators.
In the near future, more university instructors will be required for major and minor subject studies and postgraduate education in the field of nuclear energy. At present, only Aalto University and Lappeenranta University of Technology have professorships in nuclear engineering, and the University of Helsinki has one in radiochemistry. International educational cooperation is also essential, especially at the postgraduate stage of studies.
According to the Committee, safe and reliableuse of nuclear energy requires that the national competence base in the nuclear sector is strong. Regulations and activities must continue to be developed in accordance with the principles of continual improvement to meet the highest nuclear safety requirements. The starting points for this are good, because the standard of Finnish nuclear safety is high, and the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority Finland (STUK) is an internationally recognised nuclear safety authority.
VTT Centre for Nuclear Safety would provide wide-ranging benefits to nuclear research
The primary responsibility for the financing of nuclear energy research now and in the future is borne by the companies operating within the sector. The Government for its part must ensure sufficient contribution to the development of Finnish research competence and to securing a high level of competence. This is mainly affected through research funding from the National Nuclear Waste Management Fund (VYR).
In the Committee's view, the needs and focus areas of Finnish nuclear energy sector research must be accurately defined and a long-term strategy drawn up for further development of research activity. This calls for a separate joint project among research organisations and other stakeholders within the field.
One significant new project to be launched is the construction of VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland's Nuclear Safety House. The objective is to centralise VTT's nuclear engineering competence in the VTT Centre for Nuclear Safety and build modern research facilities for analysing radioactive samples in new hot cells. Once complete, the Nuclear Safety House will bring extensive long-term benefits for the Finnish nuclear energy sector with its materials technology research capabilities.
The Committee for Nuclear Engineering Competence in Finland, led by the current Director General of the Energy Market Authority Riku Huttunen, included representatives from ministries, STUK, VTT, universities, power companies and Posiva Oy. Nuclear energy sector competence was widely exploited in the Committee's work. More than one hundred specialists from various organisations participated in this work.
For further information, please contact:
Riku Huttunen, Director General, Energy Market Authority, tel. +358 10 6050 011 (Chairman of the Committee)
Jorma Aurela, Chief Engineer, MEE, tel. +358 50 592 2109 (Secretary General of the Committee)