The Nuclear Skills Strategy Group (NSSG) – in collaboration with the Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) and UK Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ) – helped inspire nearly 30 young women to continue their studies and consider careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) at a mentoring event on International Women’s Day (March 8).

A group of female sixth-formers from four schools and colleges in Birmingham and Derby were able to meet and learn from industry experts through a series of workshops and interactive sessions.

The mentors included leading global nuclear experts: the NEA’s Director-General William D. Magwood IV, Chief Science and Technical Officer at National Nuclear Laboratories, Fiona Rayment, and other leading industry figures from the UK, France, Germany, Romania and the USA.

Attendees were also sent a video message from Hélène Langevin-Joliot, a distinguished nuclear physicist and grand-daughter of Marie Skłodowska-Curie.

The nuclear sector faces a significant skills challenge in the coming decades as it seeks to attract and retain talent. This event was opening up the range of STEM-related careers available to young women, in order to help meet the sector’s wider goals of diversifying its workforce and encouraging innovation.

The event also coincides with the publication of a new report by the NEA, which identifies a lack of women in senior leadership roles and argues that the gender imbalance puts net zero targets in danger. The report includes the first publicly available international data on gender balance in the sector, based on data from 8,000 women in 32 countries worldwide.

Director-General Magwood said: “When it comes to human capacity, one issue on which we all have to come together is to make sure that women in all countries have an equal opportunity to rise to leadership positions within the nuclear energy sector.”

Director-General of Net Zero, Nuclear and International at DESNZ, Lee McDonough, said“A way to solve the skills challenge is by creating a more diverse, inclusive and skilled workforce in the nuclear sector. The UK government will continue to work with the industry to achieve these important objectives and is committed to promoting opportunities for women and underrepresented groups in the sector.”

Marie Skłodowska-Curie’s granddaughter and distinguished nuclear physicist, Hélène Langevin-Joliot, will be among those aiming to inspire young women to pursue studies and careers in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) at a mentoring workshop to mark International Women’s Day (March 8).

A group of around 30 sixth-formers from six schools and colleges in Birmingham and Derby are attending the mentoring event co-organised by the Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA), Nuclear Skills Strategy Group (NSSG) and the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ) at the IET Birmingham Austin Court.

Students will hear from mentors and industry leaders, who will encourage them in their future academic and career aspirations – including through a video message from Hélène Langevin-Joliot, a nuclear physicist and the granddaughter of Marie and Pierre Curie, and Director-General of the OECD NEA William D. Magwood IV.

Director-General Magwood said: “When it comes to human capacity, one issue on which we all have to come together is to make sure that women in all countries have an equal opportunity to rise to leadership positions within the nuclear energy sector.”

The nuclear sector faces a significant skills challenge in the coming decades if it is to help meet the increasing demand for low-carbon energy, as the UK seeks to reach net zero by 2030. The UK government recently published its British Energy Security Strategy, which outlined plans to significantly increase electricity generation through nuclear – up to 24GW by 2050.

Also taking part in the event will be Fiona Rayment, Chief Science and Technical Officer of National Nuclear Laboratories, and Kiera Harper, Deputy Director, from DESNZ.

Keira Harper said: “A way to solve the skills challenge is by creating a more diverse, inclusive and skilled workforce in the nuclear sector. The UK government will continue to work with the industry to achieve these important objectives and is committed to promoting opportunities for women and underrepresented groups in the sector.”

Attendees will also work with four international mentors from France, Germany, Romania and the USA, mentors from key players in the UK nuclear sector (Frazer-Nash, National Nuclear Laboratory and the Environment Agency) and speakers from PA Consulting and NSSG.

The UK government is investing in skills and workforce development programs to ensure the next generation of nuclear professionals has the skills and capabilities to succeed in this field. This includes supporting apprenticeships and vocational training, as well as funding research and development into new technologies and innovative solutions.

The University of Birmingham offers students nuclear degree programmes and is in the heart of a city with a rich industrial heritage – but there is also a perceived lack of knowledge among school leavers and graduates in the region about jobs and opportunities in nuclear energy. Attracting more women into STEM fields is a focus area for the NEA.

The first publicly available international data on gender balance in tahe nuclear sector has also been published by the NEA today: www.oecd-nea.org/improving-gender-balance-nuclear.

The event is also supported by Women in Nuclear (WiN), Young Generation Network (Nuclear Institute) and Rolls Royce SMR.

Date: Thursday 16 February 2023
Location: On-line via Zoom
Time: 12.30-1.15pm

Inspiring future generations to engage in STEM subjects is crucial not only for a young person’s educational development but to the future of our UK Nuclear industry.

To meet the future demand for skills, leading nuclear employers are working collaboratively with Developing Experts to provide online curriculum-mapped STEM resources to over 6K schools nationally.

Attendees will hear from Sarah Mintey, Founder of Developing Experts and Martin McManus at the Nuclear Skills Strategy Group and includes a virtual tour of the Developing Experts platform.

Ideally suited for anyone with an interest in the long-term development of skills in the nuclear sector.

We reserve the right to restrict webinar attendance in certain circumstances, however, kindly note that this decision is taken only after careful consideration.

Register here >>

To provide a secure energy supply for the future, we need to have a diverse and balanced energy mix. Nuclear power plays a vital role in the contribution of this mixed supply source.

Nuclear power is widely considered to be the safest and most efficient energy source for generating electricity. At present there are about fifty-five power reactors being constructed in 15 countries, notably China, India, Russia, and the United Arab Emirates. About ninety power reactors with a total gross of about 90,000 MWe are on order or planned and over three hundred more proposed. Most reactors currently planned are in Asia, with fast growing economics and rapid electricity demands.

Closer to home Nuclear has been pinned as the most affordable large scale, low-carbon energy source currently available in the UK. Work is well underway for the first new nuclear power station to be built in the UK in over twenty years, Hinkley Point C, which is expected to open in June 2027. Estimates show that it will be able to provide zero carbon electricity for around six million homes.

This not only gives hope for energy security through increased electricity generation but also has the potential to provide a vast range of available jobs. Hinkley Point C is predicted to over 5,600 constructions jobs at the peak, equating to 25,000 individual jobs over the construction period. Once built there is an estimate for 900 workforces during its sixty-year operation.

With no nuclear plants having been built for over 20 years, the industry will need to attract and reskill a new generation of engineering and construction professionals. Nuclear employers recognise that there are suitably qualified candidates coming from regulated industries such as oil and gas, defence, and other energy utilities and it is this cross-sector skills set that needs to be encouraged over the coming years to meet nuclear needs.

EIC along with NDA are delighted to be bringing you this one-day event to update delegates on the latest developments across the nuclear sector, bring together key new nuclear developers, the supply chain and keynote speakers from both inside and outside the nuclear sector to cover:

The event will also provide 1:1 “meet the Buyer” session to allow potential suppliers to detail directly what you can add to these projects.

Join us on Thursday 9 February 2023 at the Hilton Doubletree Manchester Airport for what is guaranteed to be a truly engaging event.

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