8

Summary of Supply and Demand for Nuclear and Radiochemistry Expertise

 

This chapter presents the committee’s summary of estimates of current and projected supply and demand for nuclear and radiochemistry expertise based on the information discussed in the previous chapters. The committee was conservative in its estimates, not wanting to overestimate a need that might result in an oversupply of expertise. Thus, these estimates are, for the most part, based on a status quo in demand. The projected numbers account for anticipated growth in nuclear medicine, but not for any sizable increase in demand in other sectors—as might be needed for a significant expansion of nuclear power or response to a large-scale radiologic release event on US soil.

DEMAND

Based on educational degree data collected from industry, national laboratories (Figure 2-5), and academia (Figure 3-4), the committee estimates that there are currently 416 B.S., 256 M.S., and 765 Ph.D. nuclear and radiochemists employed (Table 8-1).

Over the next five years, due to anticipated retirements and growth in medicine, the committee estimates a need for the hiring of an additional 200 B.S.-, 93 M.S.-, and 306 Ph.D.-level nuclear and radiochemists (Table 8-2).

SUPPLY

The committee assessed current nuclear and radiochemistry academic programs (Chapter 3) to estimate the number of degree holders that would be available to meet the projected demand. As discussed in Chapter 3, there will be approximately 500 B.S. chemistry degree holders and 100 M.S. degree holders per year from departments with two or more nuclear and radiochemistry faculty members (Table 3-3). Of those, approximately



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8 Summary of Supply and Demand for Nuclear and Radiochemistry Expertise This chapter presents the committee’s summary of estimates of current and projected supply and demand for nuclear and radiochemistry expertise based on the information discussed in the previous chapters. The commit- tee was conservative in its estimates, not wanting to overestimate a need that might result in an oversupply of expertise. Thus, these estimates are, for the most part, based on a status quo in demand. The projected numbers account for anticipated growth in nuclear medicine, but not for any sizable increase in demand in other sectors—as might be needed for a significant expansion of nuclear power or response to a large-scale radiologic release event on US soil. DEMAND Based on educational degree data collected from industry, national laboratories (Figure 2-5), and academia (Figure 3-4), the committee esti- mates that there are currently 416 B.S., 256 M.S., and 765 Ph.D. nuclear and radiochemists employed (Table 8-1). Over the next five years, due to anticipated retirements and growth in medicine, the committee estimates a need for the hiring of an additional 200 B.S.-, 93 M.S.-, and 306 Ph.D.-level nuclear and radiochemists (Table 8-2). SUPPLY The committee assessed current nuclear and radiochemistry academic programs (Chapter 3) to estimate the number of degree holders that would be available to meet the projected demand. As discussed in Chapter 3, there will be approximately 500 B.S. chemistry degree holders and 100 M.S. degree holders per year from departments with two or more nuclear and radiochemistry faculty members (Table 3-3). Of those, approximately 127

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128 ASSURING A FUTURE U.S.-BASED NUCLEAR AND RADIOCHEMISTRY EXPERTISE TABLE 8-1 Estimated Number of Currently Employed Nuclear and Radiochemists by Sector and Degree Sector B.S. M.S. Ph.D. Medicine* 89 43 163 Energy† 160 49 46 National laboratories (security and EM) 167 164 494 Academia (chemistry faculty only)** n.a. n.a. 62 Total 416 256 765 EM, environmental management; n.a., not applicable. *Includes industry, National Institutes of Health, and nuclear medicine faculty members. †Includes nuclear and radiochemistry expertise at nuclear power plants, nuclear vendors and sup- port industry, and federal and state regulatory agencies. **Does not include all staff involved in maintaining nuclear facilities, such as those enforcing safety. SOURCE: Based on personal communication from industry, national laboratories, and state agen- cies, and the current number of academic faculty (Figure 3-4). TABLE 8-2 Estimated Number of Nuclear and Radiochemists to be Hired in the Next 5 Years, by Sector and Degree, to Meet Status Quo Demands B.S. M.S. Ph.D. Medicine* 26 20 46 Energy† 104 14 11 National laboratories (security and EM) 70 59 228 Academia (chemistry faculty only)** n.a. n.a. 21 Total 200 93 306 EM, environmental management; n.a., not applicable. *Includes only industry. †Includes nuclear and radiochemistry expertise at nuclear power plants, nuclear vendors and sup- port industry, and federal and state regulatory agencies. **Based on number of new faculty since 2009, shown in Figure 3-4. SOURCE: Based on personal communication from industry, national laboratories, and state agen- cies, and from recent hires of academic faculty (Figure 3-4). 50 B.S. and 10 M.S. will likely have taken an advanced course in nuclear and radiochemistry. Thus, the projected supply of B.S.-level nuclear and radiochemists over five years is 250 and M.S.-level is 50. Both of these groups would also supply those who enter Ph.D. programs. Although, as explained in Chapter 1, advanced degrees in nuclear and radiochemistry are no longer tracked by government surveys, the committee was able to identify recent Ph.D.s granted in nuclear and radiochemistry by looking at published theses with nuclear chemistry as a subject keyword: an average of 13 Ph.D. theses per year were published in 2004-2010 (Figure 2-1). If this trend continues and if most of these Ph.D.s remain in the United

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129 SUMMARY OF SUPPLY AND DEMAND FOR NUCLEAR AND RADIOCHEMISTRY TABLE 8-3 Supply and Demand of Nuclear and Radiochemist Degree Holders over the Next 5 Years B.S. M.S. Ph.D. Demand 200 93 306 Supply* 250 50 65 *New degree holders SOURCE: Demand data from Table 8-2; supply data from analysis of academic degrees in Chapter 3. States (e.g., as U.S. citizens or permanent residents), the projected supply of new Ph.D. nuclear and radiochemists over 5 years is estimated to be 65. Table 8-3 compares the projected supply and demand for nuclear and radiochemistry degree holders 5 years from now: the projected supply of B.S. chemists seems adequate to meet the projected demand, but the number of Ph.D.s is far short of the projected need of 306 Ph.D.s. FINDINGS Estimates of the adequacy of the supply of nuclear and radiochemists to meet future needs are very uncertain, in part because of the difficulty in tracking availability of expertise, as discussed in Chapter 1. For example, there are no specific nuclear and radiochemistry undergraduate degree programs, so the projected supply will be drawn from B.S.-degree chemists who may or may not have specialized expertise in nuclear and radiochem- istry. The future pool of Ph.D.s with nuclear and radiochemistry expertise is similarly difficult to estimate because of the lack of data on individuals earning doctorates in these fields and the degree to which other disciplines such as nuclear engineering, inorganic chemistry, and analytical chemistry can serve as “substitute producers” of nuclear and radiochemistry expertise with on-the-job training in the respective application areas. The committee concludes that the current demand for nuclear and ra- diochemistry is barely being met by the supply—and on an ad hoc basis at that. Although there is evidence that the number of Ph.D.s in nuclear and radiochemistry is growing, their influx into the pipeline may be insufficient, given the aging of the current workforce with the necessary expertise and the fact that there are limits to the extent to which on-the-job training of those in closely related fields can suffice. For example, many Ph.D.-level nuclear and radiochemists at the national laboratories are inorganic chemists who have been trained on the job. Such training fills gaps in expertise in the short term but does not provide the same quality of preparation and expertise

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130 ASSURING A FUTURE U.S.-BASED NUCLEAR AND RADIOCHEMISTRY EXPERTISE as that of a Ph.D. specifically in nuclear and radiochemistry. Considerable efforts are necessary to sustain the quantity and quality of nuclear and ra- diochemistry degree programs to ensure an adequate supply of expertise to meet the projected demand. Based on these findings, the committee provides recommendations in Chapter 10 for action in three main areas: institutional (structural support and collaboration), educational (on-the-job training and knowledge transfer and retention), and collection and tracking of workforce data.