The decrease in the number of employees in an organization as a result of retirement, other termination, or transfer to other organizations resulting in a significant reduction in the organization's knowledge base
In the nuclear industry attrition due to retirement used to be a major issue because nuclear power plants typically had stable workforce, all or most of whom joined during the commissioning phase, and thus they often have similar retirement dates. However, the changes in the working life have increased also the turnover rate of organizations. Especially in countries with new build projects and more job opportunities, employees change are both interested in internal job rotation and change employers easily. This results in increased need for recruitment and job induction and knowledge transfer.
In Germany, the political decision to phase out nuclear power has gradually had an impact on the current and future nuclear workforce. The decision has led to a strong decline in enrolment in academic programmes related to nuclear engineering. In addition, there is a continuing trend for the current nuclear power plant workforce to seek opportunities in other regions or industries where there is greater political and public appreciation and expected future stability.
These factors, combined with the retirement of long term employees, are creating a shortage of qualified nuclear power plant workers in anticipation of the national schedule for decommissioning. In particular, this shortage of qualified workers jeopardizes the option of prolonging nuclear power plant operating permits, which could be problematic, considering that viable alternatives to nuclear power are not yet in place. The situation in the German nuclear industry is quite different from that in China but results in similar nuclear knowledge management challenges.
 INTERNATIONAL ATOMIC ENERGY AGENCY, Risk Management of Knowledge Loss in Nuclear Industry Organizations, STI/PUB/1248, IAEA, Vienna (2006).