A recruitment drive has been launched by a leading research centre to attract the next generation of hi-tech engineers and scientists.

The Culham Centre for Fusion Energy needs to fill 70 vacancies, with successful applicants working on ground-breaking projects across a range of disciplines from electronic engineering to physics.

Today, the site near Didcot is holding a special open day in a bid to showcase the work available and identify candidates with the right skills.

Head of operations David Martin said: “We are struggling to recruit. Vacancies have built up over the last couple of years as we have moved from pure research to technology and there is lots of competition from the private sector.

“Anyone who has a hi-tech background such as oil and gas or even Formula One will have the skills we need.”

Such is the need for staff that people are being recruited from across Europe.

Joe Milnes has been working at the site since graduation from Cambridge University with an engineering degree. Mr Milnes, 35, from Headington, is in charge of a 15-strong team of engineers and also works on the MAST fusion research project.

He said: “I am working to help design the first generation of fusion power plants and I get to work with some of the brightest people you will ever meet.

“There is a huge range of engineering projects and it is good to be working on something that really will make a difference to one of the world’s biggest problems – the production of energy.

“Coming up against challenges no-one has faced before and working towards the realisation of the fusion power plants of the future is immensely satisfying and rewarding.”

The recruitment fair runs from 4pm to 8pm today. Anyone interested in attending should contact Soo Poole on 01235 466970, email soo.poole@ccfe.ac.uk or visit the website ccfe.ac.uk/careers.aspx