Oxfordshire Advanced Skills (OAS) has recently opened a new facility at the UK Atomic Energy Authority’s (UKAEA) Culham Campus, costing £13 million. The centre aims to deliver high-quality training for apprentices in diverse industry sectors, completing the third developmental phase of OAS’s investment. Funded by the government-initiated Fusion Foundations Programme, the investment totals over £30 million and aims to aid energy sustainability for future generations by developing UK infrastructure, facilities, and skills. Stuart Martin, a space industry specialist, officially opened the new facility at an event featuring apprentices and staff from the OAS and the UKAEA.
“To deliver fusion energy for future generations, it is vital to equip these generations with the necessary skills needed to lead the way in fusion and in adjacent sectors such as space, robotics and engineering,” said UKAEA CEO Prof Sir Ian Chapman. These skills are paramount to the success of next-generation engineering and manufacturing, and the OAS extension can provide the critical talent needed for a positive contribution to the UK economy.
Several apprentices representing over 300 current learners from various industries such as motorsport, pharmaceuticals, maritime, space, and fusion attended the event. Enersys ABSL’s Paige Rivers, a Space Tech Apprentice, said, “I was drawn to OAS by its impressive facilities and the range of equipment, but the extension takes my excitement to the next level! I’m really looking forward to being hands-on and learning the fundamentals of engineering. I know that this will provide a great opportunity to jumpstart an exciting career in the space sector, and I’ll be able to bring all my learning from OAS into my new workplace.”
The OAS training centre has created an additional 2,355 sqm of space, allowing for further training of 90 apprentices. The extension is crucial as it provides high-tech equipment needed for the next generation of engineers to develop advanced manufacturing skills. This enables OAS to facilitate new apprenticeships in automation and space, as well as further upskilling and CPD courses.
The extension also incorporated designs to accommodate learners with diverse mental and physical requirements. It included physical aids and staff training, creating a more accessible environment. OAS is a partnership between UKAEA and the Science & Technology Facilities Council (STFC), training apprentices for over seven decades across science and engineering.
David Grailey, managing director of MTC Training, attended the extension opening, working together with UKAEA to provide all training programmes at OAS. “The extension of OAS is a huge opportunity to seed critically important industries of the future with the talent they need to succeed and contribute positively to the UK economy,” he said. “With strong support from the government, our new programmes will enable us to provide more people with the skills they need to make real business impact and have a fulfilling career in engineering, across Oxfordshire and beyond.”