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CEO Sarah Beacock – The value of nuclear professionalism

Following my people themed opening blog, I wanted to return to ways in which professional membership bodies provide added value to companies in their industrial sector. Schools, colleges and universities provide individuals with the initial qualifications and skills required to secure their first steps into employment. Employers are clearly best placed to train workers to their own specific needs but that isn’t where an individual’s learning finishes.

Employers want staff who can grow, develop and adapt with their business and this is often where self-directed lifelong learning starts. Curious and engaged human beings make the best and most creative and flexible workforce. So creating time and opportunity for staff to develop their skills alongside their work makes good business sense. Encouraging employees to join networks that develop knowledge and collaborative skills is a strong positive step in this direction. Professional membership bodies have an important role to play in facilitating these networks and building communities. They do this through their regional branches, special interest groups and young people and women’s networks, and they provide a valuable professional development service alongside employer training provision.

 These networks offer an in-built lifelong learning development opportunity, which often offers mentoring and coaching from experienced professionals with a lifetime’s experience in the industry. And they do it at a very reasonable cost to the employer and/or individual. Imagine being able to call on the knowledge from people who have 40 years’ experience, and who are only too willing to pass it on: that’s the power of the professional body.

The other key role of professional bodies, of course, is the setting and upholding of standards to support the profession. Whether these are in the form of qualifications, codes of conduct or other global , generic professional standards such as CEng, they serve the industry by providing standards of competence and professionalism that only that industry can set for itself.

 In the nuclear industry most of what we do is safety critical and there is an obligation to protect and serve the public interest as well as the profession. Companies of all sizes and tiers of the industry look to bodies like the Nuclear Institute to provide a lead in these standards. It is why the NI, through its Royal Charter and charitable governance, is able to operate for the benefit of its members and the wider industry. Our individual members are the Chartered Engineers and Chartered Scientists on which the nuclear industry depends.

Having met a few of the CEOs of our company members – Tom Samson at NuGEN and Jasbir Sidhu at CRA – it is clear that these industry-leading organisations see their people as key to their future and we are pleased they see the value of NI membership for their staff. We all look forward to supporting them to the top of the profession.