Flying colours for Airbus apprentices

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Airbus UK is pioneering a new higher apprenticeship qualification

. Young engineers at Airbus UK have become the first in the UK to complete a new higher apprenticeship programme. Eighteen apprentices at the Broughton site received their certificates from Sir Alan Jones, chairman of sector skills council SEMTA, for achieving the Higher Apprenticeship in Engineering Technology. Airbus approached SEMTA in 2001 to develop a bespoke programme to provide engineers with skills and knowledge over and above the outcomes of the standard national apprenticeship programme. Subsequently, SEMTA established an employer-led higher apprenticeship steering committee to develop this Airbus model into a national programme and the Higher Apprenticeship in Engineering Technology was developed by the committee as a national programme and launched as a pilot in 2005. The programme at Broughton is managed and delivered by a partnership of Deeside College, North East Wales Institute of Higher Education (NEWI) and the Airbus training department. During their first year the apprentices gained a BTEC National Certificate in Aero-engineering (Mechanical), along with five Key Skills at Level 3. They also gained a Level 4 NVQ in Engineering Manufacture, and completed the new foundation degree in Aeronautical Engineering (Manufacture) through day release. Now – another UK first – the apprentices have progressed to the third year of a full honours degree in Aeronautical Engineering. Sir Alan Jones said: “I am delighted to be presenting these certificates to the very first young engineers in the UK to have achieved the Higher Apprenticeship in Engineering Technology award, and congratulate both these engineers themselves and all those involved in delivering such a high quality, valuable programme. “The Higher Apprenticeship in Engineering Technology has been spearheaded by Airbus and each recipient should be proud of the fact that they have been part of this pioneering group. They have created an excellent model, which, I am pleased to say, has now been developed for use by other engineering employers. For all of us in the engineering and manufacturing industry, it is vital that we develop higher level skills and knowledge, and programmes such as this are a key competitive way forward.” Gary Griffiths, manager of apprenticeship programmes at Airbus UK, said: “I am extremely proud of the achievements of these young professional engineers… This is an extremely intense and demanding programme.” Airbus is one of nine regional employer champions for the new National Skills Academy for Manufacturing.