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College signs up to aviation skills charter

Telford College has signed up to a UK ‘Charter for Aviation Skills’ as part of its campaign to train a new generation of highly-skilled engineers for the industry.

Principal Graham Guest, and deputy principal Janet Stephens, attended the inaugural meeting of the Charter for Aviation Skills Combined Aviation Group at Cranfield University, to pledge support for the scheme.

The college is launching a new series of aviation engineering courses this month – the first in the Midlands – as part of an ambitious programme to create a new ‘aviation academy’, linked to RAF Cosford.

Mr Guest said: “The need for a new approach to aviation skills has grown out of a realisation that the aviation industry in the UK is facing strong growth, both in a civil and defence capacity. We need to develop talent for a growing industry by engaging individuals, businesses, trainers, educators, and government to ensure people with the right skills are available for the right jobs.

“Although the aviation sector enjoys high levels of engagement with the general public, few follow up their enthusiasm for the industry by pursuing an associated career pathway. The specialist nature of aviation professions means talent and disposition must be identified early - with channels into the industry clearly signposted.

“The gaps in these pathways, and in the early identification of appropriate people, has led to significant skills shortages, which are forecast to worsen as aviation expands. We are excited about the prospects which our new Telford College courses can open up for a fresh generation of aviation engineers.”

The Aviation Skills Partnership (ASP) set out an aviation skills manifesto in 2016, seeking to ensure a legacy of a well-trained workforce to supply the national and international markets. Work commenced on creating an inclusive and collaborative charter, reaching out to all industry groups and looking to re-align the relationship between aviation and aerospace, civil and military, large and small.

John Ponsonby OBE, chairman of ASP, said: “The UK needs to re-establish its place as one of the world’s leading providers of skilled people to feed the growth in the industry. We have a long and proud aviation and aerospace heritage and we are recognised the world over for the standard, quality, and content of our training.

“Our aim in launching this charter is to build on the industry success to date and to increase our collaboration and co-operation. It is a fundamental pillar in our new approach and we look forward to working with the industry to deliver on its five areas.”

Former RAF Cosford instructor Robert Lees, who is leading the Telford College aviation engineering courses, said: “Some people might think this is a niche sector to be in, and that you have to live near an airport. But for every aircraft that is flying, there are hundreds of companies that need to be properly staffed, to keep them in the air.

“So although this kind of qualification will certainly allow you to work in an airport, that’s just a small part of it – it will also give you a road into a much wider aviation industry support network.”

Pictured: Graham Guest and Janet Stephens at the Cranfield University charter launch event

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