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Friday, 31 October 2014

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Coastal areas need bursary scheme too

LAST week saw government give a big boost to aerospace in UK by delivering a new £6m bursary fund, paying for 500 new graduates and employees to study masters (MSc) level degrees in aerospace engineering and thereby help the sector develop the high-level skills it needs to compete globally.

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STUART KLOSINSKI

It now needs to do something similar for defence and shipbuilding.

The bursary scheme is one of the first actions of a new Aerospace Growth Partnership between the UK aerospace industry and government, with each committing £3m each over three years to help recruit talented people who want to build careers in aerospace, but need financial backing to study at masters level.

The scheme is designed to make a swift and positive impact on the industry, addressing a serious shortage of engineers in the UK.

Our aerospace industry is a world-leader, but unless we create a new generation of engineers we’ll struggle to keep ahead of the competition.

The scheme is aimed at students who, but for the bursary, would not otherwise study at masters (MSc) level, who intend to seek employment in the aerospace industry, and company employees at sponsor companies and SMEs wishing to up-skill, as well as those already qualified to graduate level, and BSc students currently studying at university.

Students will each receive a bursary to cover the cost of tuition fees up to a maximum of £9,500.

Extra support will be available for small and medium sized enterprises – their employees will be eligible for a 75 per cent subsidy towards fees.

The funding will widen access to the industry to talented people from all backgrounds.

Visit www.raeng.org.uk/aeromsc to find out details of the scheme.

Students will be encouraged to make direct links with aerospace businesses to undertake projects to address the challenges faced by industry, and secure opportunities for work experience and future employment.

UK companies sponsoring the scheme include BAE Systems, Bombardier Aerospace Belfast, Finmeccanica, MBDA Missile Systems, Rolls-Royce and Spirit Aero Systems.

BIS in announcing the scheme said “Strengthening the supply of skilled people in key areas of technology such as aerospace engineering is essential for a sustainable economic recovery and to ensure that the UK continues to be a leader in advanced design and manufacturing.”

It is our view that a similar scheme should be introduced through the joint Government-Industry Defence Industry Partnership to support graduate bursaries in the defence sector and submarine enterprise in particular.

Such a move is needed to both unleash growth in coastal communities, where the defence sector is strong, and to enable the forthcoming Successor deterrent programme to realise its full potential to act as an instrument of growth.

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