A shopping list for nuclear energy skills
The South African government may be keeping its nuclear energy plans under wraps but that hasn't stopped a research organisation from drawing up a wish list of science skills needed to expand the country's nuclear industry.
The Nuclear Industry Association of South Africa (NIASA) plans to issue a document at the end of this month (November) that lays out how tertiary institutions should prepare for nuclear expansion and the research and teaching required to drive a large-scale nuclear industry.
It presents different scenarios for a nuclear programme and outlines the number and type of scientists, engineers, technicians and other workers that would be needed for each one.
Gert Claassen from NIASA's secretariat said: "We need to do as much as we can to support the preparation of a possible nuclear roll-out."
NIASA believes a substantial nuclear expansion in South Africa is inevitable and as well as the skills scenario is planning a large-scale project connecting universities and technical institutions around the country.
NIASA's plans have their challenges. For example, organising a collaborative budget could prove tricky as universities are funded on an individual basis. And there are key decisions yet to be made such as from which university a student will receive their nuclear-related degree if classes were taken at multiple locations.
Still, it's a crucial step. "Everybody sees nuclear as growth and everybody's trying to get a competitive advantage in the industry," said Jeff Victor, who compiled the document.