Published: 9 Dec 2019

Amanda McKay, Chair of CQI’s Nuclear Special Interest Group (NucSIG), Alan Grogan, Head of Quality at Nuvia UK and James Brown secretary of NucSIG and Chair of the Nuclear Next Generation (NNG) group, discuss how the newly-formed NNG Working Group will help alleviate the skills gap and “demographic crisis” in the nuclear sector

As part of a trailblazing initiative for the CQI’s special interest groups (SIGs), a new working group has been created to provide a “stable foundation” of support for current and next generation members. 

The Nuclear Next Generation Working Group (NNG) will form part of the CQI’s NucSIG, which has a primary objective to continue supporting the needs of current members, and to attract younger generations into the industry through various initiatives. 

NucSIG: a brief history

NucSIG began as a collaborative group of nuclear quality professionals in 2007, comprising of members and support from the CQI, Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) and the Nuclear Inspectorate (now Office for Nuclear Regulation), with representatives from all the established site licence organisations.

The group was introduced at a supplier quality event in Sellafield, Cumbria, in April 2008, where the concept and aims of the group were discussed. The first NucSIG events took place in July 2008 across three locations – Cumbria, Liverpool and London – where the role and direction of the group was established: to be a voice for those working in nuclear. 

Since then, NucSIG has been engaged in the update and development of relevant quality standards for the sector with members sitting on standards panels and representing the UK’s nuclear industry both nationally and overseas. Key areas of work have included developing ISO 19443 and producing the Nuclear Quality Knowledge (NQK) guidance – a document designed to assist those entering the industry with any topics or changes that may arise over the course of their careers. 

NucSIG now consists of more than 1,000 members from different parts of the industry, such as new build, power generation, defence and decommissioning. The membership has grown to include regulators, site licence company employees and all levels of the nuclear supply chain and third-party bodies. 

Bridging the gap

While the group has enjoyed steady growth over the years, one of its main concerns has been trying to resolve the demographic crisis within the nuclear sector. CQI KPI statistics from 2019, along with data from the Global Energy Talent (GETI) report, shows that almost 50 per cent of professionals in nuclear are 45 years old and over, and only seven per cent are aged 18 to 24. The British government has advised that the nuclear sector will also need around 186,000 skilled recruits each year until 2024 to overcome this demographic crisis. 

With this challenge in mind, the Nuclear Next Generation (NNG) group will be looking at ways to attract younger talent into the sector while supporting those who are starting out in their careers.

The activity of the group will include the following:

  • To communicate with all levels and obtain interest within the nuclear sector and quality profession, to provide support by the use of the CQI and nuclear competency framework;
  • To innovate and trailblaze new ideas and concepts to aid and support NucSIG, CQI and the nuclear sector as a whole;
  • To establish working relationships and network with other next generation groups;
  • To obtain and provide support for all sector industries at the next generation level;
  • To arrange and communicate a series of events run by and involving members of the NNG, via the new NNG section of the NucSIG website;
  • To support NucSIG as required, including the completion of allocated tasks or structured working activities and to propose related works to NucSIG for completion.

Headed up by its first Chair, James Brown, the current group of eight including Iliana Adamopoulou, Ric Clarke, Victoria Derbyshire, Nathanyel Martin, Tammi Smith, Dave Walker, Howard Cooper and Louise Pater have drafted the following goals for 2020:

  • To obtain as much interest as possible for the group, so it can start to inspire, support and encourage the next generation of quality professionals;
  • Officially launch the NNG group;
  • Establish a communication strategy using all available platforms, including Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn;
  • To network with other associated groups, such as the YNSDF, the Nuclear Institute Young Generation Network (YGN) and CQI Next Generation Network (NGN), to collaborate and support the sector as a whole;
  • To arrange and complete NNG events on related and applicable topics using various platforms, such as webinars and speed learning;
  • To provide NNG members with a system for ongoing mentoring and support;
  • To support the CQI and NucSIG as a group.

The NNG under NucSIG will officially launch in April 2020 and the SIG have also planned several webinars for next summer and autumn. These sessions will cover an array of topics from information and digitisation, to legislation and regulatory compliance and will supplement the associated planned events.

NNG is looking forward to growing its membership and working closely with other industry bodies to help raise awareness of the opportunities available for the younger generation. 

For more information on plans for the NNG, email: nng@quality.org or visit the NucSIG website.