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08 December 2022, 20:17

COMMENTARY: How specialists for Belarusian NPP are trained

The construction of the Belarusian nuclear power plant (BelNPP) is nearing completion. Of course, the personnel issue is one of the most important. In an interview with BelTA representatives of the Energy Ministry, BelNPP, BSU, BNTU and the Technical Academy of Rosatom talk about training programs for the nuclear industry, new trends, interaction between employers and universities, Belarusian-Russian cooperation.

How many university graduates has the Belarusian NPP hired?

"We have started to develop our own nuclear program relatively recently. The successful operation of the Belarusian NPP depends on the quality of the personnel. In accordance with the state program ‘Education and Youth Policy' for 2021-2025 (subprogram ‘Training of personnel for the nuclear energy industry'), we are training students who subsequently go to work at our nuclear power plant," said Aleksei Derbin, Director of the Nuclear Energy Department at the Energy Ministry.

Over the past ten years, the Belarusian Nuclear Power Plant has employed more than 800 graduates of specialized majors of Belarusian universities (BSU, including the Sakharov International State Ecological Institute, BNTU, BSUIR) and institutions of secondary special education as part of the job assignment and reassignment programs.

In addition, the country has launched a program for training and retraining of employees of the Belarusian NPP. The BelNPP has been operating a training center since 2016. It has full-scale, analytical, local simulators, a simulator of the central control panel, a water treatment simulator, training laboratories for maintenance and repair, etc. "We closely cooperate with universities: we participate both in the job assignment and on-the-job-training programs for students. In 2018, 75 people underwent on-the-job-training, in 2019 - 122, in 2020 - 119, in 2021 - 106, and in January-September of 2022 - 204. For coordination purposes, universities supply us with thematic plans. We develop a common strategy for training young specialists," added Oleg Zhenov, deputy head of the center.

"Young people are quite enthusiastic about working in the nuclear industry. This year we held a number of meetings in higher educational institutions, and young people were very interested in opportunities for further employment and self-realization in the nuclear industry. In many ways, this is facilitated by the fact that we have a fairly good public opinion regarding the development of nuclear energy. This is evidenced by the results of sociological research. More than 50% believe that the country needs to further develop its own nuclear program. Skeptics account for no more than a third. This is an important achievement of our information policy," Aleksei Derbin noted.

Belarusian State University

Belarusian State University (BSU) conducts training in three majors for the nuclear energy: "nuclear physics and technology", "high-energy chemistry", "nuclear and radiation safety". “International Sakharov Environmental Institute of Belarusian State University trains specialists in medical physics for the industry related to working with sources of ionizing radiation," said Andrei Timoshchenko, Head of the Nuclear Physics Chair of the Physics Department of Belarusian State University.

Training of specialists for the nuclear industry began in 2009. "We have already trained about 400 specialists who work in various areas related to the nuclear industry. More than 100 people have been sent to the Belarusian NPP. More than 60 people went to work in research institutes, 17 in Gosatomnadzor. Our graduates also work in other organizations that deal with the operation of the Belarusian NPP, including devices, isotopic technologies," the representative of Belarusian State University said.

“It takes five years to study, and five and a half years for the nuclear physics and technology major. From 2023, we will switch to a 6-year program with an academic master's degree. The International Sakharov Environmental Institute will award the same degree for five years of training,” said Andrei Timoshchenko.

The focus is also made on international cooperation. The IAEA has launched a regional technical assistance project to improve the qualifications and training of university professors so they can provide a sustainable training system for the nuclear industry.

Over the past years, teachers of Belarusian universities have improved their qualifications in the nuclear industry not only in Russia, but also in Europe (France, Spain, Finland, Bulgaria, Slovakia) and used the opportunities of the Regional Network for Education and Training in Nuclear Technology (STAR-NET).

Belarusian National Technical University

The Belarusian National Technical University trains personnel for the nuclear industry at the Faculty of Power Engineering (construction of thermal and nuclear power plants specialty). As for the Thermal Power Plants Division of the faculty, training is conducted for three specialties: thermal power plants, automation and management of thermal power processes, steam turbine plants of nuclear power plants.

“All these specialties are in demand. Today there are several hundred ‘thermal engineers' at BelNPP. They work successfully there. From 2013 to 2022, we assigned 211 specialists with the “steam turbine plants of nuclear power plants” specialty, about 50% of them work at BelNPP. As for automation and control of thermal power processes, several dozen graduates are employed at BelNPP,” said Nikolai Karnitsky, head of the Thermal Power Plants Division of the faculty at the Belarusian National Technical University.

Specialties in nuclear power in universities are transformed to meet the needs of the economy. For example, a new specialty has been introduced to meet the demand for design and operation of nuclear power plants.

“I will take the initiative to rename the division into Thermal and Nuclear Power Plants to make it clear where specialists for the industry are trained,” Nikolai Karnitsky added.

Cooperation with Russia

“As part of the general contract with Rosatom, about 600 specialists were additionally trained in Russia: in Ivanovo State Power Engineering University and National Research Nuclear University MEPHI (Obninsk). Our specialists have also been trained at Russian nuclear power plants,” said Aleksei Derbin.

According to him, cooperation with Rosatom on personnel training continues. “This year we have held meetings with representatives of Rosatom's Technical and Corporate Academies to which we also invited our counterparts from universities. We discussed our next steps for additional training of specialists. These educational institutions have both great experience and a great variety of courses. In addition, we need to regularly conduct inspections and assess the knowledge of our specialists. They promised to help with this as well. We will also focus our attention on corporate culture,” the representative of the Energy Ministry said.

According to Vladimir Aspidov, First Vice-Rector of the Rosatom Technical Academy, the Belarusian and Russian parties have outlined a number of areas of cooperation. They include building a system of advanced training of executives. The need for a safety culture development program was also mentioned. A coordinating working group has been set up to study these areas in detail. A draft road map for cooperation is to be ready by the end of the year.

Valeriya Gavrilova,


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