UK Government, Airbus launch space engineering apprenticeship

18th Jul 2023
UK Government, Airbus launch space engineering apprenticeship

The UK government has just announced a “first of its kind” degree-earning space engineering apprenticeship. The move comes in a bid to speed up the process of people joining the industry. The apprenticeship was announced on 14th July by Education Secretary Gillian Keegan and is in collaboration with the University of Leicester, Space Park Leicester, and Airbus Defence and Space.

The apprenticeship will help bring more skilled workers into the industry faster and offers an alternative to a traditional 3-year degree.

All about the space engineering apprenticeship

The apprenticeship, formally called Level 6 Space Systems Programme, will give professionals the opportunity to work for Airbus while studying and obtaining a high-level degree. The curriculum was developed by the University of Leicester and will be delivered with Space Park Leicester where the students will have access to the specialist facilities and expertise in space mission development.

Applications open in September, and those accepted will begin the same month in 2024

Ben Bridge, Chairman of Airbus Defence and Space UK said.

“As a leading industrial partner to the British government we recognise the importance of growing domestic capability and talent. Airbus has always been committed to cultivating early careers and increasing opportunities in the growing space ecosystem. Alongside our existing early careers programmes, this degree level apprenticeship will equip people with the skills and qualifications to further their careers in the vibrant UK space sector and help us create the industry leaders of tomorrow.”

The new program follows a similar one announced in 2020, called the Level 4 Space Engineering Technician apprenticeship. The government-backed scheme focused on helping young people gain technical skills to join the space industry, such as spacecraft manufacturing and satellite integration.

Filling the skills gap

One key issue within the space industry today is the skills gap, and the ever-growing sector demands more people now. A degree apprenticeship is a job that combines higher-level learning and industry work – leading to a degree, years of business experience, and no university debt, Keegan said.

“Apprenticeships can take you anywhere at any level – even space. Today we are launching our newest degree apprenticeship – in space systems engineering. This will provide the opportunity to be at the forefront of the UK’s world-leading space industry as it continues to grow. Mine kickstarted a career that took me around the world in international business. And today you can do almost anything through an apprenticeship – from nursing, digital, construction, corporate sustainability and much more.”

Education Secretary Gillian Keegan

Keegan said after approving the first space apprenticeship in her previous role as Minister for Skills and Apprenticeships, she is “proud” to launch this new degree-level one.

In March 2023, the UK’s Space Skills Alliance, a not-for-profit consultancy organization, said the nation should increase efforts in recruitment to fulfill short-term ambitions in space. One demand was that the UK focus on less traditional career paths, and this new apprenticeship could be the first step in giving more people an opportunity to join the space industry.

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