Competence survey of the nuclear energy sector: Finland has the competence and human resources required for the nuclear energy sector
The final seminar of the Finnish Research Programme on Nuclear Power Plant Safety SAFIR2018 held on 21-22 March 2019 will bring together key players in the nuclear safety sector to hear and discuss about the results of the projects completed during the four-year programme. Since 2015, SAFIR2018 has developed and maintained Finland’s nuclear safety competence. A competence survey was conducted as a part of the research programme and is published in the seminar.
Based on the results of the survey and on the development seen in previous years, it can be stated that Finland has the human resources required for the nuclear energy programme and power plant projects currently under way. However, there are certain competence areas where special attention is required to ensure sufficient human resources for the future.
“Finland’s nuclear energy safety research spans over several decades. The resultscreated in various research programmes has been useful for the development of the entire sector and for the supervision of nuclear facilities. The programmes have also significantly contributed to the competence building in the area in Finland. Competences are developed in the research projects, in the application of the results achieved, and in various cooperation forums associated with these,” says Liisa Heikinheimo, Head of the Nuclear Energy and Fuels Unit, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment.
In the previous competence survey in 2010, the reported number of nuclear energy specialists was 3,300. By 2017 the number had risen to 3,800. According to the survey, the need for specialists will increase furtheron moderately, by about 5 per cent, by year 2030.
“We will need new skilled professionals continuously due to the normal transition of specialists, while at the same time the life span of nuclear plants and more advanced waste management will create new challenges. Consequently, the demand for competences is not likely to fall in the next few decades.” In its official capacity, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment keeps track of the developments in the nuclear energy sector and the related competence requirements. “We are particularly keen to ensure that competences remains high in certain key areas such as reactor physics, materials technology and special areas of nuclear waste management,” Heikinheimo notes.
“Finland will need more people with a higher university degree. According to current estimates, the number of these specialists needed will grow from 1,900 by around 200 people or roughly 10% by 2030. The number of specialists with a lower university degree or a secondary education qualification is expected to be sufficient,” says Jari Hämäläinen, Programme Director at VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland.
Specialists have been extensively recruited for various areas of expertise, which means retirements will not be a risk factor in any specific area in the near future. Many positions in the nuclear energy sector require in-depth knowledge and understanding as well as long experience, which is why it is good to have a sufficient number of junior specialists in all areas.
Training to new specialists has been provided within the framework of the Finnish Research Programme on Nuclear Power Plant Safety SAFIR2018 and the Finnish Research Programme on Nuclear Waste Management KYT2018 and their predecessors. Research will continue in the four-year programmes SAFIR2022 and KYT2022, which started early this year.
Liisa Heikinheimo, Head of the Fuels and Nuclear Energy Unit, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, tel. +358 50 567 5451 and liisa.heikinheimo(at)tem.fi
Jari Hämäläinen, Programme Director, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, tel. +358 40 735 4382 and jari.hamalainen(at)vtt.fi