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CEO Sarah Beacock - Supporting nuclear professionalism

None of us like going to the doctor or dentist but most of us will grin and bear it, because we know the end result will be better for us (we hope). What we most want when visiting these professionals is to know that they will do the best job possible. No-one would forgo these skilled professionals in favour of an enthusiastic amateur with no qualifications. But the same is not always true of all parts of life.

I’ve been in post now for just short of six months and had time to review progress on the three key strategic themes of our 2020 vision– advancing understanding, giving members more and supporting nuclear professionalism. The first two themes are well served: an extensive education and outreach programme exists and for our size we spend far more on this kind of charitable endeavour than most similar organisations.

The benefits of membership are also clear – technical and news content, events, networks and qualifications that are unique to the nuclear industry. For the range of events alone, the NI gives huge value to its membership with potential learning and development opportunities. More for members means savings at an individual level of hundreds of pounds when attending just one or two events a year and that is without the core benefits of magazine, networks, free events, CPD support and more.

The purpose of this blog however is to look at the third theme – supporting nuclear professionalism.

Current developments in the industry bring a renewed focus on the benefits of nuclear power within the UK’s energy mix. To meet the needs of this revitalised industry the credentials and professionalism of those within it must stand scrutiny. Organisations, from SLCs to smaller supply chain companies, are being called on to demonstrate the nuclear professionalism of the workforce deployed on the nuclear programme.

Looking ahead to the prospect of SMRs vying with other technologies for public acceptance, this need to continually develop and demonstrate our individual and collective professionalism is only going to increase over time.

The NI has a range of tools to do this. The principal means is a professional membership standard that is unique to the NI and the nuclear industry (the Nuclear Delta ® – developed for nuclear professionals by nuclear professionals). Whatever your role the Nuclear Delta ® has a relevance to you. For those who have specialist/technical roles the NI also has licences to award registration titles such as Chartered Engineer and Chartered Scientist.

As we are quite often a second membership body for many of our members we have a high representation of members who stay at Associate grade because they have a professional membership elsewhere. But it is important that we encourage all who see themselves as ‘nuclear professionals’ to become Members or Fellows.  If you are a Member of another professional body and work in nuclear it is more than likely you would qualify as a Member with the NI. It’s not just for technical and science based roles, it’s everyone whose decisions, actions and behaviours contribute to maintaining and improving nuclear safety and security.

At the NI we are developing better levels of support and advice for moving forward with professional membership. Our company membership scheme (CMS) is one of these methods but mentoring support can also be provided. Our Stakeholder Engagement Manager, Andy McIvor, and Professional Membership and Registration Officer, Adriana Stucki, can help to explain more. 

At a time when Brexit has thrown up so many uncertainties about the future and how to cope with unprecedented change, it’s important that professional bodies are able to draw on their professional members’ expertise in advising government on the right way forward for our industry. A stronger cohort of professional members gives us more clout to achieve this.

Like medical professionals, we must maintain public trust and confidence by demonstrating that proven nuclear professionals at all levels across the industry always do the best job by ensuring that nuclear safety sits at the heart of all our actions. Do you know someone who should be a professional member of the NI? Recommend us to them!