ADS Group, the UK trade association advancing leadership in aerospace, security, defence and space, held a reception at the House of Commons yesterday (28 June) to celebrate the success of apprenticeships in the UK.

The event welcomed representatives from large brands such as Airbus, Rolls Royce, Raytheon Technologies and Lockheed Martin, as well as smaller SMEs, dozens of MPs and special guest Maggie Aderin-Pocock.

Earn as you learn

“Apprenticeships are incredibly important and are the thing that many kids are missing out on,” Aderin-Pocock said. “I’m a space scientist and one of my challenges and the reason I went out and started doing science communication is because we haven’t got enough people coming into these industries. There is a horrible statistic that says less than 15% of 10–14-year-olds are considering careers in STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics].

“Many kids think if you want to get into STEM you need to get a degree, but there are so many other routes and apprenticeships is one of the greatest – you can earn as you learn, you work in a company as well as doing your studies, so it is a wonderful package but too few kids know about it.”

The ADS event celebrated the more than 20,000 apprentices across the sectors it represents, and enabled the apprentices to network, meet their local MPs and engage with them on their work. It also allowed parliamentarians and industry to discuss how they can all collaborate to promote apprenticeships and address the current workforce challenges the sectors face.

Kevin Craven, CEO of ADS commented, “Finding solutions to the critical skills gap is one of the largest factors affecting the future of our sectors. We’re incredibly proud to support our members in delivering apprenticeships as a fantastic pathway to high-wage, high-skilled jobs across the country. At our parliamentary reception, we heard first hand from political stakeholders across the board their commitment to delivering prosperity for our future workforces.”

Importance of apprentices

Two apprentices from Raytheon gave speeches to the audience, highlighting the work they’ve done during their apprenticeship and explaining why they are so passionate about spreading the word among their peers and the younger generation.

Billy Pope, mechanical engineer and apprentice at Raytheon, said, “I started at Raytheon in 2017 after hearing about their apprenticeship scheme during a college open day. The company has given me a lot of opportunities to move around the different departments and learn across the company to find my passion. They have supported me throughout my entire career, no matter what team I was in.

“My one piece of advice to anyone considering an apprenticeship would be to take every opportunity given to you, no matter how hard it is, as the rewards are great,” he added.

There were also speeches from Minister Nusrat Ghani and Gillian Keegan, Secretary of State for Education, who both reinforced the message that apprentices are incredibly important to the UK economy.

“Apprenticeships are completely life changing,” explained Keegan, who is the first and only degree apprentice in the House of Commons. “They give businesses the boost they need to develop their skilled workforce and give the apprentice the skills they need to grow their career.”

Pioneers of Tomorrow

Growing the future workforce through the promotion of apprenticeships and industry-led educational days for students will be a key focus for the industry. At Farnborough Air Show 2024 next July, a special event will be held to showcase the world of aerospace and inspire the next generation of pioneers. Pioneers of Tomorrow will be open to the public and will offer an array of activities that look to the future, including the flying and static displays, interactive hands-on activities, access to the trade exhibition, innovation showcase, a dedicated careers hub and inspirational speakers.

Apprentices video

Watch an exclusive FINN video from Raytheon on the importance of apprenticeships to the UK workforce here.


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