At a Tokyo job fair for the atomic energy industry on March 4, Kenta Kakitani, a graduate student at the University of Tokyo, hopes to some day become a nuclear plant design engineer.
But Kakitani may be a rare breed in Japan, where nuclear businesses have seen a serious shortage of new talent since the March 11, 2011, meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant, the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986.
“It seems that the nuclear power industry has lost much of its popularity because it is seen as in decline and is suffering a negative image from having to decommission crippled reactors,” said Kakitani, 24, who majors in nuclear engineering.
According to education ministry data, 298 students entered departments related to nuclear power study in fiscal 2015, a slight decline from 317 in fiscal 2010.
Kakitani said that although the number may not have declined drastically, many talented students are majoring in the fields of artificial intelligence and aerospace engineering instead of nuclear engineering.
The turnout at the job fair reflects the nuclear power industry’s fall from grace.
In fiscal 2010, 1,903 students attended a nuclear industry job event. In fiscal 2015, only 337 showed up. This year’s tally won’t be known until after a job fair in Osaka on Saturday.
Demand in the industry for graduate talent, however, is on the rise. Firms participating in the job fair, including big names like Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc., Toshiba Corp. and Hitachi Ltd., rose from 34 in fiscal 2012 to 59 in fiscal 2016, organizers said.
But recent news that scandal-hit Toshiba is scaling back its atomic business isn’t helping to attract graduates.
Akio Takahashi, president of the nonprofit group Japan Atomic Industrial Forum Inc. (JAIF), which organized the Tokyo job fair, worries that Japan will not have enough nuclear engineers even though it will take several decades to decommission Fukushima No. 1.
“It will be problematic if we run short of manpower,” said Takahashi.
Since the meltdown calamity struck, nuclear plants have faced stricter safety standards. Reactors are now required to be equipped with dozens of additional safety features to defend against various situations, including meltdowns, tsunami and terrorism.
Nuclear plant operators have had to come up with new reactor designs and deal with mountains of paperwork for submission to the Nuclear Regulation Authority, Japan’s nuclear watchdog, which has final authority over whether a reactor can be restarted under the new safety standards.
Japan Atomic Power Company, which runs reactors in the village of Tokai, Ibaraki Prefecture, and in Tsuruga, Fukui Prefecture, plans to hire about 30 rookie engineers in April 2018.
“After the Fukushima incident, nuclear power faced strong criticism. However, talking to the students today, I felt that more of them are interested in nuclear power,” said a JAPC official at the job fair.
The situation is more serious at the NRA, which assesses and inspects nuclear plants. The NRA, which also set up a booth at the job fair to lure prospective students, hasn’t made it a secret that it lacks enough competent staff to verify whether reactors are up to the safety standards.
The industry also believes nuclear engineering students are not receiving enough training.
Following the Fukushima meltdowns, research reactors, which, like their commercial counterparts have suspended operations, must clear the new safety standards before they can be restarted. For now they are idle.
“Over the past two to three years, students have graduated without engaging in the basic experiments that are of utmost importance in studying nuclear power,” said Keiko Kito, a JAIF staffer who is also a member of the Japan Nuclear Human Resource Development Network (JN-HRD Net). “They may need to study further after research reactors are reactivated at universities.”
The network consists of schools, companies and government organizations, including the education and industry ministries.
Education ministry official Ryosuke Murayama noted that research reactors were necessary to nurture students who can develop and operate nuclear plants, but would not help those seeking to experiment with ways to decommission reactors.
“One of the experiments considered necessary in the basic research associated with the decommissioning of plants involves the secular change in fuel debris. Honestly, it doesn’t require research reactors,” said Murayama.
Murayama is in charge of the ministry’s program to decommission Fukushima No. 1, offering budgets to schools and corporations if their research disciplines are considered effective.
The ministry also earmarked about ¥60 million a year until 2019 for a Fukushima University program aimed at educating students and training working-level technicians for decommissioning the Fukushima No. 1 plant.
Starting in April, roughly 20 students enrolled in the program are set to visit Fukushima No. 1 as part of extracurricular study.
Fukushima University President Katsumi Nakai reportedly plans to offer similar opportunities to students outside the program, such as those studying psychology or risk communications, starting in 2018.
The education ministry, in cooperation with other organizations, including JN-HRD Net, formed a working group in 2015 to look into the human resources needs of the country’s nuclear power industry, according to a report published in 2016.
“Decommissioning will take decades,” said Murayama of the education ministry. “We hope to develop human resources in various fields. Other than those with traditional nuclear engineering backgrounds, we may want people from the fields of robotics, chemistry and even civil engineering.”
But whether the government effort will bear fruit remains to be seen.
Of the students who attended the job fair, those majoring in other disciplines besides nuclear energy, including in electrical and electronic engineering and liberal arts, were in sharp decline.
Less than 50 liberal arts students showed up at the event in fiscal 2015, down from over 250 in fiscal 2010, according to JAIF.
Moreover, a JAIF staffer said the decline in liberal arts students showed the lack of popularity of the nuclear power industry.
This series looks at the lasting impact of the March 11, 2011, disasters.
StructureFlow’s accelerated 2020 growth sees expansion of international operations, customer base and new hires
Founded by former corporate lawyer Tim Follett, StructureFlow is a cloud-based software that was developed to address the difficulties and inefficiencies he faced when trying to visualise complex legal structures and transactions using tools that were not up to the task. The start-up was formally launched earlier this year at a time when many firms were, and continue to be, heavily focused on finding new technologies that enable efficient collaborative working.
Global growth and expanding beyond the legal industry
StructureFlow opened its first international office outside of the UK in Singapore earlier this year and has been running successful pilots of its visualisation software with prestigious international law firms. In addition to the growing customer base in the UK – the company is expanding internationally and is excited to announce that it will be onboarding customers in India, Australia, the Netherlands, and Canada in the next month.
With the belief that accounting teams, investment banks, private equity firms and venture capital firms will also benefit from access to StructureFlow’s visual structuring tool, the start-up has begun venturing beyond its legal customer base working with a small number of asset management and private fund businesses. This includes M7 Real Estate, a leading specialist in pan-European, multi-tenanted commercial real estate investment and asset management operations.
“We decided to expand internationally despite the pandemic as there is a heightened need for new technologies to support global organisations who are restructuring business models to adapt to the ‘new normal’,” said Alex Baker, Head of Growth. “Our product helps law firms and other financial institutions to work securely whilst working from anywhere and our growing Singapore operations will allow us to better serve our customers in Asia Pacific.”
New hires join the senior leadership team
With a background in enterprise software development, information security and a track record of many successful large-scale integrations, De Jong has held several prominent positions within regulated industries in both private and public sectors.
Oliver is a co-founder of Workshare Transact, the legal transaction management application that was acquired by Litera in 2019, having been previously a corporate lawyer with Fieldfisher.
Together, they bring decades of legal and technology leadership and expertise to expedite StructureFlow’s product development and will be instrumental in developing the software to meet the demands of the company’s broadening customer base.
Tim Follett, CEO of StructureFlow, commented on these developments, “The decision to further expand our presence across the legal and financial technology markets in Europe, Asia and North America is a logical step in our business growth strategy. The addition of Jean-Paul de Jong and Owen Oliver will bring first-class engineering, security and product expertise to our team, bolstering our ability to build and scale innovative enterprise products.”
Accelerator programmes to complement growth strategy
“Being accepted into two industry-acclaimed incubator and accelerator programmes is a crucial part of our expansion plans and will provide us with expert guidance to further develop our visualisation software. By utilising the expertise of industry experts, we expedite our plan of becoming a global platform for a range of organisations and stakeholders to visually engage with essential corporate information,” Follett added.
The most underrated aspects of every online bookmaker
Thanks to the internet boom, we can bet on our favorite sports without leaving our homes. In fact, we can also do it from our handheld devices, which is even more convenient. Most people love the fact they have access to tons of sports and bonuses, but they also forget that there are other important things.
In this article, we’ll look at some of the most underrated aspects of every online bookmaker. Those are things that people pay little to no attention, despite being really important. Of course, this doesn’t apply to everyone, but the vast majority of bettors fall into this category.
The customer support quality
The first aspect of every bookie that most people never check out is the quality of the customer support team. Some of them think that they will never need to use it, whereas others just don’t care.
While it’s true that there are more important things you need to take into account, the customer support service should also be on your list. Just imagine a situation in which you have a problem with your account, and you don’t have anyone to ask for help. In order to avoid these scenarios, make sure that the operator you choose has a good customer support service. Sadly, there are only a few betting websites that offer high-quality support services, such as Betway and a few other big names.
The terms and conditions of some bonuses
It might be hard to believe, but there are many people who don’t even try reading the T&C of the bonuses. Most of the promos out there usually have a catchy title that indicates how much bonus cash you can get. As a result, some bettors immediately decide to take advantage of it without reading the rules.
Needless to say, there are many things that can go wrong in this situation, so always read the T&C, regardless of the offer you choose. If you pick a legit online bookie, you will probably need just a few minutes to read the full conditions. Feel free to check out this Betway promotion if you are looking for a bonus, whose conditions are easy to understand.
The next thing that some bettors don’t even bother checking out is the security features. While it’s true that betting online is really convenient, it can also be dangerous because there are many people out there who will do everything in their power to get access to your banking information.
As a result, some of the most prominent gambling companies have implemented various security features. Nevertheless, only a handful of bettors actually pay attention to these features and how they work. Most people either don’t care or they just assume that the bookie will protect them. Sadly, this is not always the case, especially if you decide to open an account on some betting websites.
There are loads of available security features, such as an SSL certificate, different encryption tools, and more.
The lack of a mobile app/website
Let’s face it, most bettors around the world are playing from their handheld devices. Despite the fact that bookmakers have good desktop websites, most of us just don’t have the time to visit them.
Unless your job requires us to stay in front of a computer, we’re always on the go, which means that we don’t have any other option to use apart from a mobile app or a mobile website. Naturally, every prominent online bookmaker tries to come up with either of these two things so that more people can access it.
Sadly, there are still some bettors who decide to open an account and deposit a lot of money from their computers, only to realize that the particular operator doesn’t have any mobile services. If you don’t want to end up in a similar situation, make sure you take a good look at everything before you sign up. You can even contact customer support if you can’t find anything.
A surprisingly fast sign-up process
Regardless of which bookmaker you choose, you will have to open an account in order to place bets on sports. In some cases, this process can take a few minutes, which could get annoying, especially when you have to go through the T&C.
However, there are gambling operators where you can open an account in just a matter of seconds. This is usually great because you won’t have to waste time. That said, there are cases where you can sign up just by providing an email and nothing else.
Although this might seem fantastic at first, it should ring a bell that something might be wrong. So, unless you don’t want to regret your decision later, make sure you check out your account settings once you log into it to see if you can provide additional information about yourself. This is an important process that many bettors don’t pay attention to. At first, it might not seem like a big deal, but once it’s time to withdraw your winnings, you could have problems.
The last thing that hardly anyone pays attention to is the FAQ section. This is more or less related to the customer support department, but we’ve decided to point it out in a separate category because it deserves more attention.
The FAQ section is the place where you can find answers to questions that most people ask. In most cases, these questions involve any potential account/bonus issues, but they could also include information about the payment methods.
The reason why this place is important is due to the fact it’s a huge timesaver. Instead of having to talk to someone about your issue and wait for a response, you can quickly take a look at the FAQs and find your answer.
Fortunately for us, almost all top online bookmakers have a decent FAQ category, so there is a pretty high chance you’ll have access to it even if you haven’t noticed yet.
How can companies manage a fragmented workforce during this winter of upheaval?
Wales is going into a ‘firebreak’ lockdown from Friday[i]. Other areas of the UK are in different tiers of the new Covid tier system, with several northern regions now living under the most severe restrictions of tier 3. Adrian Lewis, director at Active Absence, says as the situation is continually evolving, employers will find the next few months hugely challenging.
Adrian says, “While the government’s advice is for people to work from home where possible, the reality is that many work in roles not designed for remote working, some will be isolating and there are different restrictions in regions across Britain – making it exceptionally difficult to manage people and keep track of where they are working.”
“Another complication is that someone might be in one tier at work and another at home. Others could find themselves suddenly having to self-isolate as the increased use of the NHS track and trace will start to pick up more people who may have been in close contact with someone with Covid.
“During the first lockdown in March employers embraced remote working and many implemented polices and procedures to ensure this went as smoothly as possible. As the UK faces a winter of upheaval and varying restrictions, it’s more important than ever for employers to have robust systems in place to keep track of staff.”
Employers also have the ongoing challenge of supporting employee health and mental wellbeing. New research from the University of Glasgow[ii] amongst 3000 people revealed the first lockdown had a major impact on the UK’s mental health. One in four people said they have experienced at least moderate levels of depressive symptoms and suicidal thoughts increased from 8% to 10%, and this was particularly prevalent amongst young adults (18-29 years), rising from 12.5% to 14%.
Adrian says, “Winter can affect people’s mental wellbeing in a normal year but add to the mix the impact of the pandemic and several more months of restrictions or lockdowns and some employees will really struggle and will need more support from their employers.”
“We recommend employers invest in absence management technology to track where staff are working and to gain a complete overview of which staff are working, those off sick or on holiday and those who might be self-isolating due to Covid, all of which can all be managed remotely in the cloud.”
“This technology can also help employers manage people’s mental wellbeing as they are able to track absence and see if any patterns emerge, such as having a lot of time off or always off on a Monday. They can then contact that member of staff to find out if they need extra support.
“As work become increasingly fragmented it’s for businesses to have real-time visibility over their employees to ensure the business can run as close to normal as possible and staff are supported even if they aren’t physically in the office.”
For more information on absence management software visit: www.activabsence.co.uk
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