Success Stories » Nuclear Industry

Nuclear Industry

International Identification & Sharing of Best Practices to Address Aging Workforce issues


The aging nuclear workforce is well documented by the sector. The Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) projected approximately 40% of the workforce will retire or leave in the next five years (2005 workforce survey. The aging workforce has a major impact on the industry internationally, compounded by other factors such as rapid industry growth and experience dilution. Nuclear organizations are in various stages of efforts to address the challenges.

International groups involved in this initiative include:

  • EPRI – Electric Power Research Institute
  • IAEA – International Atomic Energy Agency
  • INIS – International Nuclear Information System
  • INPO – Institute of Nuclear Power Operations
  • NEI - Nuclear Energy Institute
  • TVA - Tennessee Valley Authority
  • WANO – World Association of Nuclear Operators

Detailed Description of the Tool/Practice & Results

Facilitated Information Gathering, Dialogue and Production of Studies / Reports
Agencies and support groups (IAEA, NEI and others) are actively engaged in assisting industry players to find ways of addressing workforce issues. Through hosting and facilitating workshops, technical meetings, taskforce activities and team assignments many best practices have been identified, documented and made available to industry organizations. Examples of activities:

  • 2006 IAEA Publication Technical Document on “KM for Nuclear Industry Operating Organizations”.
  • International Conference, France, 2004 – Managing Nuclear Knowledge: Strategies and Human Resource Development.
  • IAEA, INIS and NUCLEUS – all provide industry organizations with access to their respective library, search capabilities and links to helpful websites
  • IAEA technical Report, Risk Management of Knowledge Loss in Nuclear Industry Organizations, published in 2006. Addressed:
    • KM terminology for the sector
    • Strategic approach to managing workforce issues
    • Knowledge loss risk assessment processes and tools
      • Employee self assessment
      • Institutional knowledge loss
      • The three Step process - TVA
  • EPRI Report – “Real Time Expert Knowledge Acquisition and Transfer: Needs and Technology Assessment”, Nov, 2004.
    • Identified types of knowledge to be elicited from each expert
    • Selected approaches to knowledge elicitation – interaction with experts; self elicitation and capture
    • Selected approaches capture – automated capture, Communities of Practice
  • TVA Report – New Employee Experience.
    • Developed a process to orient new employee to TVA and their specific business unit
    • Process included the introductions to TVA culture model
    • Initiatives based on benchmarking best-in-class companies
    • Used a private consulting firm to facilitate the process
    • Modified and recommended best practices to best fit TVA culture as well as feedback from new employees.

Benchmarking Studies

NEI and INPO undertook two major benchmarking initiatives. Results of the studies were shared at a Benchmarking Meeting “Practical Approaches to retaining Critical Knowledge”, held in Atlanta, Georgia, Nov 2005 and April 2006.

  • Recruiting and building pipelines – Exelon. Exelon is a provider of energy services with an electrical and natural gas distribution. It is the largest nuclear operator in the USA.

Developed new pilot programs to recruit operations and engineering pipeline employees to address the loss of experienced employees. Results:

  • Increased education requirements for new hires
  • Upgraded recruitment screening process
  • Established 2 and 4 year partnerships with universities
  • Utilized alumni to build relationships
  • Established ‘bench strength budgets’ to cover the cost of recruitment initiatives
  • Embarked on nation-wide recruitment
  • Pilot program was expanded into other disciplines
  • Undertook knowledge elicitation using concept maps
  • Human Capital Planning – Palo Verde Nuclear Power Plant

An integrated workforce planning process based on in-depth work force analysis that resulted in an employee migration analysis. The study considered a variety of work force gains, such as new hires, movement or promotion and development programs; and work force loss factors, such as retirement, movement, non retirement attrition.

In the past staffing projections were based on individual department initiatives. Different assumptions were used throughout the enterprise and employee migration impacts were not fully considered, making it difficult to integrate the many findings into a coherence plan.


  • Integrated site-wide approach to work force planning
  • Workforce planning built around talents and not departments
  • Consistent assumptions for workforce losses and needs
  • Calculated six workforces dynamic for 3 different types of work group losses and 3 different types of workforce gains.
    • Future work group losses – attrition; retirements and employee movement within the firm
    • Future work group gains – new hires, development programs, employee movement
  • Best practices also discussed from Areva (design and construction of nuclear plants, world energy expert) – College of Experts; and Southern California Edison that had introduced phased retirement.

Assist Visits

International organizations such as IAEA and others have conducted and arranged “assist visits” to industry companies. These on-site visits provide valuable expert resources to nuclear power plants, including access to best practices.

  • Krsko Assist Visit – April 2005 (WANO and IAEA)
  • School of Nuclear KM – Trieste, Italy (IAEA and ICTP)
  • Expert Mission on KM – Paks Nuclear Power Plant (IAEA)


Websites of all the participating organizations – studies, reports and tools available