Q: Will there be a process of generating a local workforce if we win the project rather than parachuting in the experts?
A: There will be a real chance for local supply chains and manufacturing to play a significant role in the construction. The Universities and Colleges have all agreed to work together to maximise the locally available training for the required workforce, at all levels, and at all stages.
Q: Any industry returned to North Ayrshire would be exciting – a more sustainable, cheaper and safer option more so.
A: Indeed – and STEP could initiate a major innovation revival on the peninsula.
Q: Couldn’t we provide fabulous training and employment opportunities in investing and improving renewables?
A: Let’s do both: this isn’t an either-or – we should try to bring as many opportunities to Ayrshire as possible. What we hope to show is that STEP is possible at Ardeer, and can bring so much more with it.
Q: North Ayrshire needs employment now, why are we looking at a 21 year programme instead of one that helps local people now?
A: It’s true that STEP is targeted to be functioning by 2040, 18 years away, but there will be a STEP presence and activity from 2023 on the chosen site, and site preparation will begin shortly thereafter. The site preparation, infrastructure development and construction will continue throughout mid-2020s to late 2030s, so employment will be available continuously through those phases, and then the operational phase of STEP will require a new workforce.
Q: I believe that Skills Scotland and the Glasgow Universities together with the SQA have agreed in principle that should Ardeer win this project, that they would create an integrated, cross- level curriculum development process
A: Yes indeed – cooperation on delivering training and education on this scale is unprecedented: all the further education colleges in Ayrshire and Glasgow, plus all the Glasgow City Universities, have agreed to work together with SDS and employers (including STEP) to provide the most comprehensive programme for training and education to maximise the local opportunities for developing the best workforce possible.
Q: Would you be looking to create targeted training at local colleges and universities and help fund this too?
A: Definitely: the 4 Glasgow-based universities, and the further education colleges in Glasgow and Ayrshire have agreed to form an advisory panel, with Skills Development Scotland, and industrial employers/agencies to ensure that the training and education offered will be as comprehensive as possible to develop a local workforce for all aspects of STEP and any associated industry that is attracted to Ardeer by STEP. Cooperation on this scale – across the education, training and employment sectors – is unprecedented, and serves to underline how well we can create joined-up thinking here to serve the community.
Q: Why has the estimate of jobs provided for the plant risen from 300 to 4500?
A: There seems to be some confusion in the question: the estimate for construction jobs is 2500-3500, and for operations 600-1000; in each case between 2.5% and 5% will be apprentices, and a similar number will be graduates.
Q: Wouldn’t any infrastructure project of this size provide as many employment opportunities?
A: Perfectly possible – STEP is the one currently being discussed: it will help with low carbon power generation & net zero targets for Scotland, and bring a world-beating technology to Ardeer. Hopefully it will attract other innovation to the site.
Q: What skills are needed to support the build and operations? Do we already have them? If not, how do we develop them?
A: Bringing a prototype fusion reactor to Ardeer will require the input of skilled people from across a wide range of sectors.
During the development phase there will be a need for onsite investigation and borehole drilling. Ecological and archaeological services will also be extremely important.
During the building phase, we’ll need specialist manufacturing knowledge to help build complex parts including the reactor vessel and magnetic field coils. Control systems like plasma handling, energy extraction and refuelling will need their own skilled, dedicated workers. Autonomous procedures like maintenance robots will also need their own teams to ensure their smooth operation.
A project such as this will also have a wider range of conventional construction requirements. Roles will be required in civil engineering, mechanical and electrical engineering, plus management supervision and a whole range of site services including security, catering, transport etc.
Once STEP is up and running, it will need people with specialist knowledge similar to that involved in running a conventional power station – people who can look after the dynamo and electric power components, as well as fusion scientists and engineers to manage the tokamak itself.
The Fusion Forward (Ardeer) consortium is already in discussions with colleges, universities, industry and strategic agencies to develop a cross-sector plan which will predict workforce needs and deliver the training and research we’ll need to support STEP at every stage.
Q: What kinds of jobs will be available and when?
A: STEP will bring with it a wide range of employment opportunities right from the start of the process.
For the construction phase, the jobs profile will be similar to that of any large-scale advanced engineering power-station type project.
Once the operations phase begins, STEP will need many more employees across a wide range of skill sets including:
- Engineers: electrical, mechanical, materials, robotics, control systems, safety
- Technicians: instrumentation, mechanical, electrical, operations Scientists: data, materials, cryogenics, diagnostics, plasma control, neutral beams, theory and modelling
- Support staff: admin, procurement, business support, HR, training, planning, project management, IT support.
Q: How many jobs will this create?
A: STEP offers an incredibly rare opportunity to bring thousands of high-quality jobs to North Ayrshire.
As well as bringing a disused industrial site back into use, STEP can help trigger wider regeneration of the local economy.
The UKAEA estimate the number of new jobs created as 2,500-3,500* during the construction period, and a further 600-1,000* jobs when the facility is operational.
2.5%-5%* of jobs in both phases will be apprenticeships, with a similar number of graduate intakes, meaning we can also invest in the future of our young workforce.
*Note these are estimated numbers only and may change.