Competence Management

Regulation of nuclear installations and radiation facilities is highly complex and requires qualified, knowledgeable, experienced and skilled professionals. Because of rapid technological advancements, rigorous and continuous competence development of the regulatory professionals is needed. Similarly, mentoring, coaching and hands on training of junior as well as senior professionals is essential for strengthening the regulatory oversight of nuclear installations, radiation facilities and associated activities in the country.

PNRA believes that knowledge-based competence is its most valuable asset that needs to be developed, maintained and enhanced systematically. In this perspective, PNRA has adopted various initiatives for the competence development of regulatory officials in different disciplines.

Competence Needs Assessment

In line with the systematic approach, PNRA competence development efforts are based upon systematic evaluation of training needs of the officials performing various regulatory functions. PNRA utilizes the IAEA four-quadrant competence model to perform “Competence Needs Assessment (CNA)” of regulatory officials. This model divides the competencies required in a regulatory body into four quadrants. Each quadrant is further categorized into competency areas. The model is presented below.

Competencies of PNRA officials are assessed against this model and the gaps so identified are filled through a number of measures including education, training and expertise development through in-house endeavors along with competence building through training opportunities offered at national and international institutions and organizations.

PNRA has performed the Competence Needs Assessment of officers of its technical directorates thrice since its inception.

National Institute of Safety and Security - NISAS

In house competence development of PNRA employees is conducted at the National Institute of Safety and Security (NISAS), an ISO 9001:2015 certified training institute of PNRA, which is capable of conducting quality trainings in the regulatory domains. The institute also offers training opportunities for officials from other national and international stakeholders.

NISAS has state of the art training facilities with capable faculty and necessary training aids. NISAS has established various laboratories for training and education purposes. These include physical models laboratory with scaled down models of vital components of nuclear power plants; mechanical and non-destructive testing laboratory with training instruments and probes; radiation detection equipment laboratory with sensitive radiation monitoring and measurement instruments; and physical protection interior laboratory featuring intrusion detection devices, access control technology, and nuclear installation mock-up security model etc. The institute also possesses a Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) Soft Panel Training Simulator (SPTS) for understanding plant behavior during normal and abnormal conditions and providing hands-on training to regulatory inspectors.

Based on periodic competence need assessments and specific requests of different departments, PNRA develops the annual training calendar of NISAS comprising specially designed training courses and lectures by subject specialists for the specific needs of PNRA. Prominent among them are the “Basic Professional Training Course Level-I” and “Professional Training Course Level-II”. NISAS also has an active training program for various stakeholders of nuclear safety and physical protection in Pakistan.

The focus areas of NISAS thus include:

  • Regulatory Control
  • Nuclear Safety
  • Radiation Safety
  • Waste and Transport Safety
  • Physical Protection of Nuclear Installation and Security of Radioactive Sources
  • Certification Courses for Radiation Protection Officers of Hospitals and Industries
  • Management Courses for PNRA Staff

PNRA Fellowship Program

PNRA regularly offers MS scholarships to talented young graduates. In this regard, PNRA has inked agreements with Karachi Institute of Nuclear Power Engineering (KINPOE) and Pakistan Institute of Engineering and Applied Sciences (PIEAS) for enrolment of selected candidates as PNRA sponsored fellows in Master’s degree programs offered by these institutes. This fellowship program is organized in the fields of nuclear engineering, nuclear power engineering, systems engineering and medical physics. So far, more than 140 such graduates have joined PNRA.

Technical and Managerial Trainings at National Organizations

PNRA maintains strong liaison with several national institutes for capacity building and knowledge enhancement of its personnel in a variety of fields of interest. In this regard, PNRA currently has collaboration with around 30 national organizations/institutes. Most prominent among those are Pakistan Welding Institute (PWI), National Center for Non-Destructive Testing (NCNDT), Pakistan Manpower Institute (PMI), Certification Services of Pakistan (CeSP), Pakistan Audit and Accounting Academy (PAAA), Secretariat Training Institute (STI), National University of Science & Technology (NUST), Pakistan Institute of Science and Technology (PINSTECH), Pakistan Center of Excellence in Nuclear Security (PCENS), etc.

Technical Trainings at International institutions

PNRA employees are regularly trained in various specialized technical and regulatory disciplines at foreign institutions around the world. Such trainings are mostly conducted under the umbrella of PNRA-IAEA collaboration. PNRA has also signed agreements for regulatory cooperation with the Chinese National Nuclear Regulatory Authority to arrange technical trainings for PNRA engineers and scientists.

Higher education

PNRA encourages its employees to improve their qualifications in relevant fields. PNRA officials regularly enroll in postgraduate and doctoral degree programs at various national and international universities.

Knowledge Management at PNRA

Right from its inception, PNRA has stressed on preservation of nuclear knowledge and ensured that knowledge and skills of the current generation of experienced nuclear professionals are transferred effectively. The PSDP-funded School for Nuclear and Radiation Safety (SNRS - the precursor of NISAS) was established to develop the new and younger generation with relevant education and skills to replace the ageing nuclear workforce. All staff members of PNRA were led through a structured program of knowledge acquisition consistent with their job duties as well as future assignments. The program focused on ongoing education and training as well as coaching and mentoring.

Job rotations and cross-functional teamwork play a pivotal role at PNRA to benefit from collective experience, transfer knowledge and diversify skill-sets – all important from the KM perspective.

The in-house training program of PNRA, managed by NISAS / SNRS has always made it a point to involve experienced regulatory staff to develop training material and teach it in the classroom to young regulatory officials. Thus knowledge transfer is built into the PNRA training program.

PNRA also regulatory arranges other knowledge sharing activities like panel discussions, knowledge cafes and mentoring sessions for transfer of tacit knowledge. A number of after action reviews and exit interview sessions have also been held over the years. Video recordings of select events (like KM sessions, lectures delivered in IAEA-PNRA courses, etc.) are done and made available to the officials.

Leadership Development Program at PNRA

PNRA considers the concept of ‘Leadership’ as central to competence.

PNRA’s need for systematic leadership development is based upon IAEA Safety Fundamentals, which recognize the importance of ‘leadership’ as crucial to safety and states that “effective leadership and management for safety must be established and sustained in organization concerned with, and facilities and activities that give rise to, radiation risks”.

The ability to make competent regulatory decisions based on sound technical grounds and free from the influence of politics, personal preference, or other interests that may conflict with safety requires leadership at all levels of the organization.

In this context, PNRA initiated ‘Leadership Development Program (LDP)’ in 2007, in collaboration with LUMS, for developing and enhancing the leadership capabilities of regulatory officials. The first LDP batch comprised of selected mid-tier PNRA officers and was trained and supervised by LUMS experts. The training activities in this regard focused on how potential leaders could transform themselves and PNRA, by adopting:

  • Competitiveness
  • Credibility
  • Consistency
  • Compassion
  • Passion

This trained batch of potential leaders, in turn, selected and trained two more batches of LDP in the following years.