From education to employment

Two North East institutions celebrating the career successes of almost 70 students

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Newcastle College and Newcastle International Airport are celebrating 15 years of continued collaboration which has led to the career successes of almost 70 students.

Over the course of more than a decade, these two major North-East institutions have maintained a strong education and employment partnership. In 2014, they jointly introduced the Ambassador Programme, specifically designed for Aviation Operations students at Newcastle College’s Aviation Academy.

Situated near the Airport’s runway, the Aviation Academy serves as a specialised educational facility for aspiring aviation professionals. The 12,000m² facility, which was awarded the Queen’s Anniversary prize in 2018.

The Ambassador Programme volunteering scheme invites students from the Aviation Academy to spend time at the airport and learn about the different departments – including security, passenger services and operations.

Former Newcastle College Aviation Operations student, and current Passenger Services Operations Manager at Newcastle Airport, Aaron Buckingham from Jarrow said:

“When I took part in the Ambassador Programme ten years ago, I got to know the Operations Manager for Passenger Services, which helped me to get my first job here. Then I went back to college for a year to complete my Level 3 before getting a permanent job in Passenger Services, where I still work today.”

Another former Aviation Operations student, and one of four Airport Duty Managers, Charlotte Birkett from Whickham added:

“I am certain that it was the Ambassador Programme that got me to where I am today. I took part in the programme in my first year. I was then taken on as seasonal staff before being offered a permanent role in Passenger Services, and I’ve been making my way up the ranks ever since.”

Nicola Largue, Aviation Programme Leader said:

“Last academic year more than 20 students successfully gained employment at the airport through the Ambassador Programme, working within different airport departments such as Passenger Services and Security, as well as within onsite business partners such as Swissport, in despatching and check-in roles. Of these students, some have returned to education with us and continued working part-time at the airport too.”

Tara Hurst, Newcastle Airport Customer Operations Officer, said:

“The young people studying at the Aviation Academy clearly already have an interest in the aviation industry. Being able to have them on site and see them putting their learning into action alongside our teams lets us see their potential. We have seen over and over that many of these students are capable of applying their skills and enthusiasm to many different departments and are a good resource for us to develop.”

Aaron added:

“Some of the people in my department who have come from the college have gone on to be firemen, air traffic controllers and airport duty managers. The possibilities are almost endless, and Newcastle College is a great place to start.”

Principal of Newcastle College, Scott Bullock added:

“Newcastle College has a long history of working in partnership with industry to develop the workforce of the future and our Aviation Academy is a fantastic example of this. I am incredibly proud of the work our Aviation Academy undertakes with Newcastle International Airport to ensure that our students are ready to step into the industry and make their mark in aviation.”

The Aviation Academy boasts state-of-the-art facilities and is the only one of its kind in the region. The space emulates a real aircraft hangar, providing students with an immersive learning experience, amongst a number of aircrafts. The Aviation Academy also boasts a Premier 1 Jet, made possible by a £2 million investment into STEM facilities at NCUC last year.

For more information about the Aviation Academy and courses, visit

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