The UK Government has announced the establishment of a new apprenticeship designed to train space engineering technicians, equipping them with the technical skills needed for a career in the space industry.
Currently, apprentices training for roles in the space sector gain qualifications as general apprentices or craft apprentices.
The new scheme – which will begin in January 2021 – follows a successful years-long collaboration between the UK Space Agency, Airbus, and the University of Leicester. It will include training in a range of technical skills such as spacecraft manufacturing and satellite integration, as well as design, testing and problem solving.
The Space Engineering Technician apprenticeship is the first to be recognised by the Institute for Apprenticeships & Technical Education, and approved by the Department of Education. A degree-level space engineering diploma is expected to be available to students from September 2021.
“This new qualification is an incredible opportunity for young people which will equip them with the vital skills they need to help unlock the secrets of our solar system,” said Science Minister Amanda Solloway. “The UK’s space industry is booming, and these new apprentices will become the next generation of engineers that will help us achieve our country’s space ambitions.”
The UK’s withdrawal from the EU has restricted opportunities for involvement with some major space projects, such as contract work for the EU’s Galileo satellite navigation project being moved out of the UK. However, the government is keen to stimulate growth in the UK’s space sector, including by building the UK’s first spaceport (with a view to seeing the first UK space launch in the mid-2020s) and purchasing the bankrupt operator of the OneWeb satellite constellation with Bharti Global.
The government hopes to create 30,000 new jobs in the industry and grow the UK’s share of the global space market to 10 per cent by 2030.
“From large multinationals to small enterprises, companies in the UK are at the forefront of the commercial space revolution – it is therefore essential that the right training is offered for future recruits into the industry,” said Professor Nigel Bannister, a space scientist at the University of Leicester.
“The international space sector is undergoing a major transformation as space becomes more accessible, and this new standard enables employers to recruit people with the skills needed to grow their business and ensure their workforce is trained in the latest technologies and techniques.”
The Minister for Apprenticeships and Skills, Gillian Keegan, commented: “The UK space sector is thriving, generating an income of £14.8bn, employing 42,000 people and supporting a further £300bn of economic activity through the use of satellite services. The space engineering apprenticeships will ensure we have the talent needed for the UK space industry’s continuing growth.”