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https://innovateuk.blog.gov.uk/2021/02/11/promoting-equality-and-diversity-in-low-cost-nuclear/

Promoting equality and diversity in Low-cost Nuclear

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: ISCF, Support

Back in November last year, Rich Deakin – the ISCF Low-cost Nuclear Challenge Director – put pen to paper on a blog that introduced the concept of the Low-cost Nuclear ISCF Challenge, what it is and why it is needed. If you have not yet read this, then I highly recommend it, as Rich articulates the Challenge far better than I ever could.

Image courtesy of Rolls Royce of a proposed small modular reactor.

ED&I in the Nuclear Sector

As a member of the Challenge Team, it is exciting and a privilege to be working alongside our Industrial partners in developing the next generation of Low-cost nuclear power stations. Quite rightly this is a critical part of what we do; however, we also have other vital roles to play within the wider ecosystem. Partly this involves spreading the message, not only about the Low-cost Nuclear Challenge but also about how this new technology can improve the perception of nuclear energy and power in general.

Part of it is also undertaking some of the groundwork to prepare the industry for the coming of the brave new world. This involves working with the government and industry to help prime the supply chain and ensure that sufficient preparation has been made to meet the needs of a job-hungry new participant within the sector.

The requirement for new talent in-flow across the Nuclear Industry is considerable, with around 7000+ full-time vacancies required to be filled each year, this is not including the additional jobs that will be created by a successful  UK Small Modular Nuclear Reactor build programme. Employers are already competing hard for young talent, who may not think of a career in the Nuclear Industry as a first choice.

Equally, the Nuclear Industry is working hard to increase the participation of Women, BAME & LGBT+ representation in the industry, which historically has been low. This combination of job creation and a desire for a more diverse & inclusive workforce represents a huge opportunity for the sector and it is in this space, as Equality, Diversity & Inclusion (ED&I) Lead for the challenge, I am looking to make an impact.

Thankfully, Nuclear is well served with organisations and individuals keen to make a difference such as; Women in Nuclear; the Nuclear Institutes Youth Generation Network; Diversity & Inclusion in Nuclear; and the Nuclear Skills Strategy Group.

Implementing change in Low-cost Nuclear

Within the Challenge Team,  we have been privileged to meet and discuss the issues with members from many of those groups and have utilised their enthusiasm, knowledge and experience to develop an ED&I Strategy for Low-cost Nuclear that focuses on 5 key  Themes:

  • Leadership: Ensuring that the Challenge acts as an exemplar and operates with a ‘do as we do’ mentality
  • Influence: Using the influence and voice that the Challenge has to sign-post best practice and opportunities, at events and talks
  • Support: Build upon the existing good work that is on-going within the Nuclear Sector, by engaging with existing programmes and using the Challenge platform to provide support and resource where we can
  • Document & Monitor: Build the collection of ED&I metrics into the challenge benefits, evaluation, and monitoring processes. Ensuring that we understand and can document where we are; where we are going; and where we are aiming for
  • Go Beyond: Actively seek additional funding for value add activities that will benefit ED&I and UK Small Modular Reactors

Building on the above themes, we are actively looking to support existing initiatives where our status as part of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund and UKRI can make a real difference and it is the Spark! Contest that I want to highlight as an example of how we can use our platform.

Spark! Contest: Promoting equal access to opportunities

Now in its sixth year, Spark!  is a competition for those aged 18-30 who are currently studying in the UK or France to collaborate in small teams to develop a business pitch in response to a question. The top 15 groups then get an opportunity to develop their proposal under the guidance of an industry mentor, before the final winning selection is chosen. For those who take part it is an excellent opportunity to network, learn new skills and foster new relationships (especially as this is a cross-channel competition).

The organising committee approached us looking for new channels and ways to publicise the contest, something we could achieve by making full use of the UKRI PR machine. We are now hoping to build on this and explore ways to work together to help the competition continue to evolve and grow in the future.

This is an exciting time to be involved in the Nuclear Industry, which is growing fast and has a promising diverse and inclusive future ahead of it and I am delighted and privileged that I can play a part in it.

Please do get in contact if you would like to know more about anything mentioned in this blog and thank you for reading.

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