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Education and training

In 2008, the French Minister for Higher Education and Research created a Co-ordination Committee for nuclear education and training in order to ensure the expansion of the French nuclear energy sector through the renewal of its workforce. This committee, named French Council for Education and Training in Nuclear Energy (Conseil des Formations en Energie Nucléaire – CFEN) advises the Office of Higher Education on opening new academic curricula. It also coordinates the international recruitement of students and provides a point of contact with AFNI (the French International Nuclear Agency or Agence Française pour le Nucléaire International) for education and training. The International Institute for Nuclear Energy, I2EN, is performing nuclear trainings for the international actors in the nuclear energy area as well.
To obtain the Engineering Bachelor Degree, the curricula is composed by two commun engineering years and a third year specialization (option).

Regarding the Bachelor Degree, there is a wide offer within the nuclear field. The National Institute for Nuclear Science and Technology/Institut National des Sciences & Techniques Nucléaires (INSTN) offers an Atomic Engineering Degree; the ENSTA Paris Tech/École Nationale Supérieure de Techniques Avancées offers a Nuclear Engineering specialization within the Engineering curricula; the Mines Paris Graduate School/École des Mines Paris (ENSMP) offers a Bachelor’s Degree Specialization in Nuclear Engineering; the Engineering National High School of Caen/École Nationale Supérieure d’Ingénieurs de Caen (ENSICAEN) offers a specialization in Nuclear and Instruments Engineering; the Grenoble Institute of Technology/Institute Polytechnique de Grenoble offers a option in Energy and Nuclear Engineering; the Mines School of Nantes/École des Mines de Nantes offers a Bsc’s Degree in Nuclear: Technology, Environmental and Safety (NTSE); the Chemistry Paris Tech/Chimie Paris Tech offers a specialization in Nuclear Chemistry; the National Chemistry High School of Montpellier/École Nationale Supérieure de Chimie de Montepellier offers the third year a specialization in Environmental and Nuclear Chemistry; the Mines School of Alés/École des Mines d’Alés offers a Nuclear Specialization and the National Mines High School of Saint-Étienne/École Nationale Supérieure des Mines de Saint-Étienne) in collaboration with the INSTN) offers a Nuclear Installations Engineering Bachelor Degree.

At a Master level, the Grenoble Institute of Technology/Institute Polytechnique de Grenoble (in collaboration with EDF and the National Institute for Nuclear Science and Technology/Institut National des Sciences & Techniques Nucléaires –INSTN-) offers a Master International Materials for Nuclear Energy (MaNuEn); the University Pierre and Marie Curie-Paris VI/Université Pierre et Marie Curie-Paris VI teaches a Nuclear Engineering Master. Besides the Consortium established by the Paris Tech, the University Paris-Sud 11/Université Paris-Sud11, the École Central Paris (ECP), the National Institute for Nuclear Science and Technology/Institut National des Sciences & Techniques Nucléaires (INSTN) and EDF offer a Master International Nuclear Energy; the National Institute for Nuclear Science and Technology/Institut National des Sciences & Techniques Nucléaires offers the the European Master in Molecular Imaging (EMMI) and the University of Nancy I Henri Poincare/ Université Henri Poincaré, Nancy I collaborates in the European Master in Nuclear Fusion Science and Engineering Physics.

The University Joseph Fourier/Université Joseph Fourier offers a Master professional ITDD with four specializations and in collaboration with INP teaches the Research Master in Energy Physics. And the INSTN coordinates the ENEN European Master of Science in Nuclear Engineering (EMSNE). The Blaise Pascal University Clermont Ferrand/Université Blaise Pascal Clermont-Ferrand teaches a Physics Master with several courses within the nuclear field. The INSTN offers a Modelling and Simullation Master Degree.

As for the PhD level, the National Academy of Arts and Crafts/Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers (CNAM) offers a PhD in Sciences and Nuclear/Sciences et Techniques Nucléaires.and the National Institute for Nuclear Science and Technology/Institut National des Sciences & Techniques Nucléaires in collaboration with Paris XI University, offers a PhD in Nuclear Energy.

The National Institute for Nuclear Science and Technology/Institut National des Sciences & Techniques Nucléaires offers several training courses; similarly, training courses are offered by four European Technical Safety Organisations (TSO) among them the French Institut de Radioprotection et de Sûreté Nucléaire that is among the founders of the so called the European Nuclear Safety Training and Tutoring institute (ENSTTI). Other main actions on formation in the nuclear field are carried out by CEA and IRSN providing traineeship for master of several levels. The companies Areva, EDF and GDF Suez offer initial training for the operating personnel of several NPP (many of the them in collaboration with the French Council for Education and training in Nuclear Energy (CFEN)).

In the research field there are several institutions involved within the nuclear scope. The Armines (which is a joint of Grandes Écoles), the Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Center of the ESPCI Paris Tech; the French Atomic Energy Commission/Commissariat à l'énergie atomique (specially the Cadarache Research Institute), the Energy Department of the Grenoble Institute of Technology and the Institut de Radioprotection et de Sûreté Nucléaire (IRSN). Finally, the European Foundation for future’s energies/ Fondation Européenne pour les Energies de Demain promotes the development of nuclear energy in the higher education field.

Human resources and knowledge management

France has 58 operating nuclear reactors that generate 75% of electricity, and are situated 19 nuclear sites: BELLEVILLE 1-2 (PWR), BLAYAIS 1-4 (PWR), BUGEY 2-5 (GCR, PWR), CATTENOM 1-4 (PWR), CHINON B 1-4 (PWR), CHOOZ B 1-2 (PWR), CIVAUX 1-2 (PWR), CRUAS 1-4 (PWR), DAMPIERRE 1-4 (PWR), FESSENHEIM 1-2 (PWR), FLAMANVILLE 1-2 (PWR), FLAMANVILLE 3 (EPR) is under construction, GOLFECH 1-2 (PWR), GRAVELINES 1-6 (PWR), NOGENT 1-2 (PWR), PALUEL 1-4 (PWR), PENLY 1-2 (PWR), PENLY 3 (EPR) is planned partly and owned by GDF Suez, SAINT-ALBAN 1-2 (PWR), SAINT-LAURENT B 1-2 (PWR), and TRICASTIN 1-4 (PWR).

Recent years have confirmed the central role that nuclear power plays in the French electricity supply. The country is pursuing also the development of fourth-generation fast-neutron reactors. In May 2006 the board of Electricité de France (EDF) approved the construction of a new 1650 MWe European Pressurised Water Reactor (EPR) at Flamanville. In 2009 the French government endorsed the construction of an EPR unit at Penly. By 2015 the government should decide as well on the building of any future EPRs.

In 2008 a Presidential decree No. 2008-378 of 21 April 2008 established the Nuclear Policy Council (Conseil de Politique Nucléaire - CPN), in order to replace the Council for Foreign Nuclear Policy (Conseil Politique Nucléaire Extérieure - CPNE), underlining the importance of nuclear technologies to France in terms of economic strength, notably power supply. It will be chaired by the President and include the Prime Minister as well as cabinet secretaries in charge of energy, foreign affairs, economy, industry, foreign trade, research and finance. The head of the Atomic Energy Commission (CEA), the secretary general of national defence and the military chief of staff will also sit on the council.

Demand for nuclear experts

CFEN’s estimates for the future demand for nuclear experts are that over the next ten years, domestic and international nuclear power activities in France will call for the recruitment of about 13,000 engineers with Master of Science or Ph.D. degrees, and 10,000 science technicians and operators with Bachelor of Science degrees. The chief employers will be EDF, AREVA, GDF-Suez, national agencies such as the Agence nationale pour la gestion des déchets radioactifs(ANDRA), sub-contractors, and R&D agencies such as the Commissariat à l’Energie Atomique et aux Energies Alternatives (CEA), and the technical safety organization, Institut de Radioprotection et de Sûreté Nucléaire (IRSN).

As for the need for employees for the future, OPIIEC published a study in 2008 called Etude sur les métiers de l’ingénierie nucléaire.