Excitement growing over aviation engineering plans

The boss of the Aviation Skills Partnership has spoken of his excitement at working with Telford College to create a new Shropshire Aviation Academy.

Simon Witts with Telford College deputy principal Janet Stephens, at the college’s Haybridge campus
Simon Witts with Telford College deputy principal Janet Stephens, at the college’s Haybridge campus

Simon Witts, founder and chief executive of the organisation, was at the college’s Haybridge campus, where the trailblazing new courses are continuing to take shape.

The college is looking to recruit 100 budding aviators for new level two and three courses in September, which will feed directly into recruitment campaigns for top airlines including British Airways, and Ryanair.

The majority of the training will take place at RAF Cosford, which will become the academy’s official headquarters.

Mr Witts, whose organisation already runs a similar, highly successful aviation academy in Norfolk, said: “The world has a critical need for aviation people now.

“The UK has always been leading that, and we have relied too much on military training systems over the last 30 to 40 years.

“Aviation for a long time to come will rely on people; not just engineers but baggage handlers, dispatchers, cabin crew – all the people that make the industry run.

“We plan to build an academy at RAF Cosford that will be like a finishing school. Ryanair and British Airways are looking to recruit from this programme.

“They are aware of it and like it, and we are delighted that Telford College’s management team shares our excitement and enthusiasm about the project.”

Mr Witts added: “We are talking actively to Shropshire Council and Telford & Wrekin Council about the academy and how it will be funded. It will be funded in the same way as the one in Norwich as a public sector building, open to all.”

It is estimated that, across Europe alone, around 132,000 new aviation technicians will be needed between now and the year 2037 to work on the maintenance of aircraft.

Mr Witts added: “We are really excited with how things have progressed so quickly. It is less than a year since we started discussions with Telford College.

“Forty or 50 years ago we had a rich heritage of providing skilled people, and for whatever reason we have stopped training people we need.

“We need to train people in military and civilian careers. If you want to get young people into aviation, they need to know there are a range of occupations to move into.”

Telford College principal and chief executive, Graham Guest, added: “We are now looking to recruit more than 100 students for our first intake in September, for levels two and three engineering courses which deliver specific aviation skills.

“The intention is to build our aviation programmes right up to degree level, giving students chance to progress onto a BSc (Hons) in Professional Aviation Engineering Practice.

“With a railway station right on the doorstep, the Cosford centre will be easily accessible not just to the people of Telford and Shropshire, but also the wider West Midlands area, including the Black Country and Birmingham.”

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