Construction of a nuclear power plant also includes training, says Fennovoima’s Training Specialist Heidi Kauppila. Fennovoima’s cooperation with educational institutions is focused on Northern Finland.
In a well-known song called 1972, published in the early 2000s, Anssi Kela sings about people growing up and becoming masons, cab drivers and shoemakers.
Fennovoima’s version of the song in 2024 could include operators, operating engineers, specialists, and a host of other titles.
Fennovoima’s Training Specialist Heidi Kauppila says that once the nuclear power plant is in operation, it will employ 450–500 professionals from a variety of fields. The number of positions is huge – as is the range of people’s educational backgrounds.
Some of the recruited people are already highly accomplished, but the nuclear power plant company wants to attract more attention towards the industry by cooperating with educational institutions. The cooperation will also produce new experts during the construction phase.
– Nuclear power is not the key: instead, we are searching for people with experience from their own field of expertise, Kauppila says.
Heidi Kauppila herself is an excellent example of this: she has a master’s degree in science and technology, and her specialty is process engineering. After graduating in 2011, Kauppila obtained work experience at a Talvivaara mine in Sotkamo, a Yara factory in Siilinjärvi, and in an occupational health and safety consulting position before coming to work for Fennovoima at Pyhäjoki. She has benefited from her studies in industrial engineering and human-factors engineering even though she switched from the mining industry to nuclear power.
Fennovoima’s cooperation with educational institutions is focused on northern Finland. Kauppila, who is originally from Simo in Northern Finland, believes that many students want to commit themselves to their home region like she has done. Studying in the north will also allow people from elsewhere to grow roots in the northern soil.
The cooperation with educational institutions is also about promotion of nuclear power awareness. Fennovoima wants to provide information on how nuclear energy is produced also to people whose only connection to the industry is the recharging of their devices.
Fennovoima is strongly involved in the education network of Northern Finland. The network includes fifteen educational institutions from a variety of levels: a total of 300 teachers and experts have received information on nuclear power and other major projects. The partners have, for instance, reformed the education they offer to cater for the nuclear power plant’s needs during construction and operation.
Improving competence of the teachers is a continuous process where Fennovoima’s experts are involved. Nuclear experts are also popular lecturers at the educational institutions.
Kauppila says that the cooperation between Fennovoima and the educational institutions is focused on universities and other institutions of higher education, as well as the technological sector. Especially important partners in the education network include the University of Oulu, the Oulu University of Applied Sciences, and Centria University of Applied Sciences in Ylivieska.
Kauppila expects to see several theses involving the nuclear industry once the nuclear power plant is in operation. Plenty of students have already been interested, but Fennovoima’s resources for promoting science are limited during the construction phase.
She also expects more students to work at the nuclear power plant as summer employees when the project proceeds and after the nuclear power plant has been commissioned.
Cooperation not limited to institutions of higher education
There has also been cooperation with comprehensive schools, vocational schools, and upper secondary schools. Fennovoima has especially close relations with Pyhäjoki Upper Secondary School, which has assisted the upper secondary school’s internationalization activities and enabled visits to a partner school in Sosnovyi Bor, Russia, for example.
Kauppila says that many of the comprehensive schools and vocational schools in the area are interested in the Hanhikivi 1 construction site. Schoolchildren and students can visit the construction site to see it for themselves.
– They may be our future employees.