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.