What can aerospace do for the next generation?
RAeS President, Sir Stephen Dalton, explains why now is the right time to consider the impact of its outreach programmes and look to future collaboration with industry and Government to support growth in the next two decades.
This year the Royal Aeronautical Society (RAeS) is celebrating the 20th anniversary of its specialist careers service.
Aerospace and aviation is one of the most vibrant and important sectors in the global economy. The UK benefits from having the second largest civil aerospace industry in the world, generating £32bn of turnover, the biggest aviation network in Europe, and the third largest in the world, while London has the busiest airport system in the world.
The development of skilled employees is the lifeblood of any industry. UK aerospace and aviation is no different. As a generation reaches retirement, it’s important to attract more people, especially millennials, into the industry.
Since 1997, the RAeS has been at the forefront of providing accurate and impartial careers advice to young people through educational, exciting, and we hope, memorable experiences. Today, through a vibrant volunteer network, and in partnership with industry, we run a range of school outreach programmes for primary and secondary ages, as well as providing specialist impartial careers advice and support to those seeking employment in the sector. However, what more should we be doing to attract new generations to consider careers in the sector?
New research commissioned by the RAeS reveals today’s 18-30 year-olds have some awareness of the career opportunities available, but do not have a detailed understanding. The results tell us that better information during primary and secondary school age would build greater awareness and knowledge of aerospace and aviation.
The survey also revealed that young people had an awareness of the importance of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) qualifications to joining the industry. Furthermore, those surveyed see apprenticeships as a route into the industry.
Our survey indicates that people look to their schools and teachers for advice. Thus, schools must have easy access to readily available and impartial advice. Friends and family are also key, so raising public awareness is also important.
The survey tells us that young people value real-life interaction and experiences with an industry, particularly through work experience, not just static resources. The RAeS will continue to help the industry in providing real-life engineering experience opportunities.
Government and Parliament have an important role. The success of the Aerospace Growth Partnership (AGP) demonstrates the value of working collaboratively through industrial strategies. The publication of a long-overdue Careers Strategy must be brought forward. Inspirational campaigns, such as the Year of Engineering and the centenary of the Royal Air Force in 2018 will also provide golden opportunities to capture the imagination of young people, and the RAeS looks forward to supporting them wholeheartedly.
The industry faces major challenges as well as opportunities from Brexit, the RAeS will do everything we can to reach more young people, parents and teachers. We look to everyone else involved to do the same.