From education to employment

London South East Colleges students taking their careers to the skies

A group of passionate engineering students from London South East Colleges will soon be taking their careers to the skies after attending a special event at London’s Biggin Hill Airport this week.

Students Emmanuel, Kishna, Cezar, Mark and Mohammed, are all currently studying the Performing Engineering Operations NVQ C&G Level 1 Diploma course at the College’s Bromley Campus and want to develop their skills further into the aerospace industries.

In September, the College will launch its much awaited new course Aerospace and Aviation Engineering C&G Level 2 Diploma, with a level 3 progression planned for the following year.

The five young men were given an inspirational talk by Biggin Hill’s policy and external affairs coordinator Bethany Russell. She told them about the many different career roles available in the industry from maintenance, manufacturing, materials, mechanical or licence engineer, patent attorney, production and quality manager to technical sales specialist. The opportunities are endless.

She also floated some interesting facts and figures about the UK aerospace industry. It is the second largest in Europe and employs over 84,000 people. Due to a forthcoming expansion of the industry, it is seeking newly qualified staff to replace around 40% of its current aviation engineers who are due to take retirement in the next fifteen years.

After the talk, they met representatives from a number of prominent engineering and completions companies such as the RASFalcon Aerospace and Castle Air Group and took part in a variety of ‘have-a-go’ activities involving various aircraft and specialist engineering equipment and tools.

Kevin Hann from the RAS told the students about opportunities available at the company and particularly their apprenticeship programmes. London South East Colleges currently has one such student at work with them on a level 3 programme.

Mark is looking to apply for an apprenticeship at Biggin Hill Airport at the end of his course and will return to the College on day-release. He said: “Today has been brilliant. I just love being around aeroplanes and airfields and I feel totally in my element here. This is definitely the career for me.”

Cezar will be progressing onto the level 2 course in September. He would like to qualify as a service engineer in the industry. He said: “It was great just to roll my sleeves up and put my hands on the components inside the engine of a real aircraft. I learnt a lot just talking to the Biggin Hill staff and some of their partners. I can’t wait to get started.”

Emmanuel is also interested in becoming an aircraft mechanic and was excited at the prospect of receiving a valuable insight to entering the profession. He said: “Today has been amazing. I just want to get my overalls on and start work. I think it’s going to be a long haul to learn everything there is to know, but it will be worth it. Seeing something you have just put together take off from a runway and become airborne in seconds thrills me.”

Harkesh Ram is the Assistant Principal for STEM at the College and has been very instrumental in setting up the new courses. He said: “We sent five of our most promising engineering students to get more advice and inspiration and they’ve all returned totally exhilarated from the experience. I can quite comfortably say that more than one of them will become aeronautical professionals in the next few years.”

Louise Wolsey, Executive Director of Corporate and Strategic Development, has been hard at work over the past twelve months developing links with Biggin Hill and a range of other industry partners to plan for the establishment of an Aerospace College at the airport. She said: “This event has enabled us to showcase just some of the many opportunities our planned new College will provide. It will serve the London South East area and beyond to Gatwick and into Kent, and give students a pathway to accreditation and professional qualifications in the aerospace and aviation industries.”

If you think you have what it takes to become an aerospace engineering professional and work within the aviation industry, we’d like to hear from you. We have a great range of courses and apprenticeship opportunities to get you started. 

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