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Science Minister launches first Higher Apprenticeship in space engineering

17 March 2013

Science minister, David Willetts has launched the first ever Higher Apprenticeship in Space Engineering at STFC’s Rutherford Appleton Laboratory.

The science minister meeting apprentices at RAL (photo: STFC)
The science minister meeting apprentices at RAL (photo: STFC)

The apprenticeship has been developed by Loughborough College in association with the National Space Academy. Students from Loughborough College and current apprentices from the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL) were at the launch and had a chance to speak to the Minister.  The party were also shown the RAL Space Precision Development Facility and were given a tour of STFC’s ISIS facility.

“The UK space industry is a major success story," David Willetts said. "To build on this achievement we need to maintain a good supply of talented scientists and engineers. This new Higher Apprenticeship is the first of its kind. It will provide people with the advanced skills and knowledge to drive growth and innovation in the space sector, keeping Britain ahead in the global race."

The pioneering programme is set to lead the way in training across the country for a sector due to triple in size and be worth £30bn in less than two decades.

Developed by Loughborough College in association with the National Space Academy, the apprenticeship will meet the demands of an industry which already employs around 30,000 and contributes over £9bn to the nation’s economy, with work-based, top quality degree-level training.

Dr David Parker, chief executive of the UK Space Agency, added: “Space is big business for the UK and can offer our young people interesting and fruitful careers. Programmes like the Higher Apprenticeship in Space Engineering will help us to nurture the next generation of scientists and engineers, equipping them with the skills and knowledge needed to boost both our growing space sector and the whole economy.”

Dr Martin Killeen, head of engineering at Loughborough College, said the aim is to provide a national pathway for 250 Higher Apprentices by 2015. "The two-year framework includes a 12 week delivery of the Foundation Degree each year with workplace training for the remainder of the time.”

The space sector has a huge impact on everyday life, showing significant growth despite the economic downturn. The commercial sector is driven by increasing demand from consumers for satellite TV and radio, mobile phone services, GPS navigation and from government for emergency services and security, for air traffic management or to monitor climate change. This is predicted to lead to continued high growth – projected at 5 percent per annum in real terms to 2030.

The Government recently pledged an extra £60m to the UK Space Agency for Europe’s space programme, bringing the UK’s total investment in the European Space Agency to an average of £240m per year over the next five years. This will allow the UK to play a leading role in the next phase of European space collaboration and has secured the future of the ESA facility in Oxfordshire, including transferring ESA’s telecoms satellite headquarters to the UK and creating over 100 new high-tech jobs.

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