National coordination needed for long-term knowledge management in the field of nuclear safety and radiation protection

Areas of research that are critical to society are currently underfunded and education programmes relating to radiation safety are in jeopardy; also, national coordination is a prerequisite for maintaining competencies over the long term in the field of nuclear safety and radiation protection. These conclusions have been drawn by the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority as part of a government assignment on investigating the assumptions for maintaining national competence as part of the Authority's mandates. These findings have been presented to the Government of Sweden.

In December 2016, the Authority was tasked by the Government to look into long-term knowledge management. This investigation included studying the prerequisites for maintaining national competence in the Authority's area of responsibility, identifying key stakeholders' assumptions for recruitment of staff, identifying sources of research funding, and finding ways to collaborate on future areas of investment.

"Getting an overview of, and gaining control over, the knowledge management framework for securing competence in the areas relating to radiation are both difficult tasks," says Director Anneli Hällgren of the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority. "The areas of nuclear safety and radiation protection have mixed characteristics, and the areas of knowledge are spread amongst several scientific disciplines."

If today's and tomorrow's competence needs are to be met, the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority has established that this presupposes strengthening the system for knowledge management in the field of nuclear safety and radiation protection.

"A number of areas of research that are critical to society are currently underfunded, and education programmes relating to radiation safety are in jeopardy. These are some of the root causes of this vulnerability in the knowledge management system," says Director Hällgren.

In the assessment of the Authority, dealing with these problems requires reinforcement of the knowledge management system in the form of the following:

  • A comprehensive national strategy with coordinated efforts for achieving a higher level of effectiveness in the knowledge management system
  • Increased funding for a critical core of research environments in order to ensure an ongoing and minimum level of scientific expertise; such expertise is to have insight into the activities and practices involving radiation conducted in Sweden. This is in parallel with increased funding for related research environments
  • Formalised interaction between stakeholders in the system for central government research funding to guarantee that the relevant research environments are sustained
  • Guaranteeing availability of education programmes that are critical to society in the field of nuclear safety and radiation protection
  • Several stakeholders should perform informative action and run campaigns for the purpose of attracting students so that they enrol in nuclear safety and radiation protection programmes, and choose occupations in the field.

The Swedish Radiation Safety Authority submitted its report to the Government on 24 September.

For more information, please contact: Anneli Hällgren, Director, Tel. +46 8 799 42 86, or, alternatively, the Authority's duty press officer on Tel. +46 8 799 40 20.