Many countries, including Saudi Arabia, are planning to introduce nuclear energy for a more sustainable energy mix in the coming decades. Education and training in nuclear science and technology is essential to building the human resources necessary for nuclear power, as witnessed at an IAEA workshop in Saudi Arabia last month.
"Human capability building is the driving force for making atomic and renewable energy an integral part of a sustainable national energy mix," said Dr. Maher Al Odan of the King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (K.A.CARE) in a keynote presentation at the workshop, held on 13-17 December 2015 in Riyadh.
"This will create and leverage the competitive advantages of relevant technologies for the social and economic development of Saudi Arabia," he said. "Nuclear education is important for a sustainable nuclear power supply chain in Saudi Arabia by ensuring capable manpower in the nuclear field."
To support this goal, the IAEA is assisting Saudi Arabia in facilitating the establishment of a baseline for nuclear education and training using the IAEA Education Capability Assessment and Planning (ECAP) methodology. This first ECAP workshop in Saudi Arabia provided a forum for exchanging experiences and information on the current status of nuclear education and training in the country. Participants from the government, education and training institutions and laboratories shared lessons learned and good practices to enhance the coordination among several stakeholders for achieving sustainable national nuclear education and training programmes. Experts from the IAEA and other Member States also participated in the workshop.
The ECAP approach emphasizes the role of key stakeholders from the government, education and industry in establishing sustainable nuclear education and training programmes to support the adoption and development of nuclear applications. This involves strategic planning of national nuclear education and training programmes and developing the necessary resources.
In closing the workshop, Prof. Waleed Abulfaraj, Vice President of K.A.CARE, called for the establishment of a National Steering Committee on Nuclear Education and Training to identify objectives, goals and benchmarks, along with a National Network on Nuclear Education & Training to widen academic and industrial collaboration, knowledge transfer and outreach.
The IAEA Department of Nuclear Energy, through the Nuclear Knowledge Management (NKM) Section fosters nuclear education networks. The ECAP workshop was jointly organized by the NKM Section, the Nuclear Infrastructure Development Section and the IAEA Department of Technical Cooperation, under a national technical cooperation project.