Oxford is playing a key role in ensuring the nuclear industry has the highly skilled workers it needs in the future, regardless of whether or not nuclear energy expands.
The potential skills shortage was one of the main topics on the agenda at the UK Nuclear Academics Discussion Meeting in Birmingham (18-19 September), attended by the directors of the Oxford Martin Programme in Nuclear Materials, Professor Chris Grovenor and Professor James Marrow.
Professor Marrow said: “This event followed on from an initial meeting last year in Oxford and demonstrates the cohesion of the UK nuclear academic community, as well as the increasing alignment of academic research to meet the needs of the UK nuclear industry and UK government energy strategy.
“The recent UK investments in the National Nuclear User Facility (NNUF) and the Jules Horowitz Reactor (JHR) are evidence that the UK remains a serious player in nuclear research across the whole nuclear landscape; Oxford is strongly involved in these developments, particularly the Materials Research Facility at the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy, which will be a unique facility supporting academic research on irradiated materials for fission and fusion.
“However, there is a real need for a ‘skills pipeline’, recognised by many of the speakers at this meeting, to provide the large numbers of highly skilled individuals that the nuclear industry will require in the coming decades, regardless of whether nuclear energy expands or not.
“It's not yet a nuclear renaissance, but there is a feeling that the momentum is in the right direction. Oxford, along with other universities, is already important in developing these people at graduate and postgraduate level, and there are discussions in progress on how to take this further.”