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China to build nuclear tech college amid talent shortage

China will build a new university dedicated to nuclear power research, amid a severe shortage of qualified people.

China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC), the country’s leading nuclear power developer and nuclear power plant operator, has signed a contract with the government of Tianjin Municipality to invest in a nuclear technology university in Tianjin, local reported on Saturday.

The university would be built as a national level institution and would function as a base for skill straining, Master’s and PhD programs, and core technology research and development, the report said.

China has a comparatively intact nuclear industrial system. However, few nuclear related fields such as nuclear fusion, uranium enrichment and post-processing “differ widely from each other, and the existing nuclear related majors in universities and colleges cannot satisfy the demand for talent,” Science and Technology Daily reported, citing Wan Gang, a member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference National Committee and director of the China Institute of Atomic Energy.

Wan said only 20.29 percent of 2,300 graduates CNNC has hired majored in nuclear-related courses. A  CNNC development report says that colleges and universities can only satisfy less than half of the company’s demand for talent for the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20).

Wang Yinan, a researcher at the State Council’s Development Research Center, stressed the importance of cultivating talent for nuclear power security.

“China has many nuclear power projects and will continue to develop, which has led to a severe shortage of nuclear talent in power plant design, engineering construction, operations and security control,” Wang told the Global Times on Monday.

If something goes wrong, the front-line operators should “immediately recognize the fault and solve it,” Wang said. “Not enough qualified personnel is threatens nuclear power security.”

Thirty-one nuclear power units were operating in China as of June 2016, with 23 more under construction. The China Electricity Council said in 2016 that China will have the second most nuclear power plants in the world.

The nuclear industry requires qualified people “for the secure operation of current nuclear plants,” Wang said.

Many Chinese universities offer nuclear technology-related programs, including Tsinghua University, Peking University and Xi’an Jiaotong University.

Source: Global Times